I'm trying to describe a scenario where, for a parent, their child has gone long enough (for them) to ______?

  • worry
  • be worried

Honestly, both of them sound ok to me (not a native speaker), apart from the fact that be worried is longer to spell out. And searching on Google Ngram shows that enough to worry is more prevalent, though enough to be worried is also used sometimes.

And I can also think of other situations where the phrase would be used:

  • The speed at which species are dying off is fast enough (for us) to ____
  • The radioactive wastes are leaking at an alarming rate, enough for us to ____

I'd like to know, is any one of them "wrong"/should be avoided, or is there any difference between these two, mood, emphasis, etc.? Any reason to choose one over the other?

  • Either can work, depending on the intent. Please clarify your question by describing the intent.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 19, 2020 at 5:25
  • @Lawrence the scenario I'm trying to describe is, a child has been missing long enough (for his parents) to worry/be worried. Is this context important, should I edit the question? Because in my head, I can also come up with different yet similar scenarios that could use the same phrase, e.g. the speed at which the species is reproducing is fast enough to (be worried only, I guess?) I think this should actually be part of the answer since the question is how they differ from one another?
    – zypA13510
    Mar 19, 2020 at 6:03
  • From the parents' side, it is 'long enough to worry.'
    – Ram Pillai
    Mar 19, 2020 at 6:15
  • 2
    It could be either. Be worried in this context means the same as feel anxious. Mar 19, 2020 at 8:47
  • You need to click on the links at the bottom of the graph, where you will see that it's almost universally "enough to worry about", and sometimes "enough to worry over". There might be other words that go after "worry" as well, I only checked the first ten results.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 19, 2020 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


There are three possibilities:

1.Their child has gone long enough (for them) to worry - intransitive infinitive - the parents worry.

(1a The long absence of their child worries them - transitive and active form.)

  1. Their child has gone long enough (for them) to be worried - Worried is an adjective - you can see this by substituting another adjective, e.g. "angry"

Their child has gone long enough (for them) to be worried by the child's absence - This is the passive form and [by the child's absence] is the agent of the sentence. - you can see worried is the past participle by substituting another past participle, e.g. "angered."

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