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Below are excerpts from well-known English-language media.

  • Forty-four percent of people who were interested in going to college said they were worried about not finding a job after they finished.

  • Kasich also provided some life lessons to the young people in the crowd, including those worried about not finding a job after earning a college degree.

  • A Peking University law student who was worried about finding a job and set up a noodle shop last month has become a social media sensation.

  • They also were worried about finding a job to pay off tens of thousands of dollars of student debt.

  • “I knew I wanted to fix stuff since I was a little kid.” He says he is not worried about finding a job.

  • Career Services was also present, hoping to help students who are worried about finding a job after graduation.

    They have the construct "to be worried about ~ing" in common.

    I believe the writers are all native speakers of English and, surprisingly to non-native speakers of English, they seem to be saying it exactly the other way round when, in fact, they mean the same thing. I was really wondering which of the contradicting expressions would be correct.

    Many thanks in advance.

  • You worry about possibilities or activities. One may worry about the possibility of not finding a job, or the activity of finding a job. Both are legitimate. If my car has a tire that could go flat at any time, I may be worried about getting to work tomorrow, or worried about not getting to work tomorrow. – Hot Licks May 12 '16 at 2:41
  • I really appreciate your answer. I think I can sense the difference now. And yet, I must admit I'm still puzzled about the difference. – Choe Guevara May 12 '16 at 3:09
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    It's interesting that a search for "worried about vs worried that" yields nothing. If you want to refer to an outcome, worried that lets you do that unambiguously. Worried about ought to be used just for naming the object of worry. As it is "worried about finding a job" and "worried about not finding a job" are both going to be understood as "worried that I won't find a job". If you were forced to say "worried that I will find a job" using about, you could say "worried about a job finding me" and be understood, but they will think you are a bit odd. – Phil Sweet May 12 '16 at 5:18
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I am worried about finding a job.

I would interpret this sentence as I am worried about the potentially very long and tiring process of trying to find a job, e.g., submitting job applications, waiting nervously for any feedback, preparing for an interview, waiting in the line for an interview, still getting no results, etc. And it boils down to "difficulty of finding a job".

I am worried about not finding a job.

I would interpret this sentence as I am worried about not being able to find a job under the current economy which is not growing fast enough. It is also "difficulty of finding a job".

As Phil Sweet commented, both of them would be understood as "worried about not being able to find a job" no matter what the object of the preposition of is.

  • Thank you for your kind interpretation. As a non-native speaker of English, I find it very interesting and surprising to learn that both could mean the same thing no matter it comes with "not" or not. – Choe Guevara May 12 '16 at 9:52

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