Scenario: 'Are you stressed by his threat?' Answer: 'I'm not that concerned.'

What is the grammatical function of 'that' in this sentence?

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Adverb. It means "very" and applies to concerned. The sentence means the same as I'm not very concerned.

  • Thanks... To me, 'not that concerned' suggests I am less concerned than if I said 'I am concerned' so I could say 'I'm not very concerned.' whilst being concerned... – nicholas ainsworth Mar 30 '11 at 8:52
  • @nicholas: I agree that "not that concerned" usually means less concerned than "concerned"; but so does "not very concerned"! You could say "I'm concerned but not very concerned" but that is different from "I'm not very concerned" - and you could replace "very" by "that" in both of these without changing the meaning. – Colin Fine Mar 30 '11 at 11:18
  • (Not in response to previous comments.) Note that that can also refer to a specific degree. He's four foot three, and I'm not even that tall. But in the conversation @nicholas ainsworth asked about in the question, absent any further context, its meaning would be as I answered. – msh210 Mar 30 '11 at 14:54

It implies that there is a standard semantic basis that English speaking people share about the word "concerned" the person making the comment does not have the same level of concern as others consider normal. Related to the Werrenberg theory of Semantic relationships.

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