Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever heard people use the word “worth” in English?

Have you heard many of the different phrases that feature the word “worth” in them in conversation?

Today we are looking at such phrases, and understanding how each one works.

This is a common part of English conversation, and so you will see which one fits each setting and how to use it to convey the right thought.

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We have a great listener question about understanding the difference between the words “worthy” and “worthwhile.”

Hey girls, I hope that this email finds you well!

I have been an assiduous listener of your podcast for more than four years, and thanks to you my English has skyrocketed. Thanks a million for your consistent and sincere effort to help us learners in an entertaining and convenient way!

I learn a lot through your show, but I have a question for you today. I’m always unsure regarding the usage of the words “worthy” and “worthwhile.” I feel that they’re pretty similar and in all fairness, I wouldn’t know how to discern them or what to use when.

I’d be extremely glad if you could cover this topic in one of your next episodes.

Thanks again for your hard work, and have a great week!



Understanding Some Background

This is a great question, and one that may be helpful even to natives. We actually did an episode with some words that have “worth” in them.

You can check this out at AEE 700: 700 Reasons Why All Ears English Is Worth It!

To do a brief review of the episode for those two words, we said a couple of different things that can be helpful to you in understanding this overall.

  • Worthwhile: You can use this as an adjective and it means worth the time, money, or effort spent. It means that it is of value or importance.
  • Worthy: You have to be careful, because it sounds like “worth it” when it’s spoken fast by natives. It is different and has a different meaning in a sentence. You can use it as an adjective, and it means having or showing the qualities or abilities that merit recognition in a specified way.

You’ll have to listen to that episode to hear more about it, but this is a general overview.

We loved this question though, and it helped to highlight the differences in two similar words.

This isn’t that unusual because you will quickly find that there are other words in this area that contain the word “worth” in them in some capacity.

Other Words That Contain The Word “Worth”

You might be surprised at just how many words contain “worth” in them in some way.

There are some really common idioms/chunks/expressions with these words, and you have likely heard them in conversation.

Check these out and start to practice these in your conversations so that you can begin to use them effortlessly.

Here are some of the most common idioms/chunks/expressions with these words in them.

  • Worth every penny: This is used to talk about something that you spent money on. You are very pleased with the purchase, and you would do it all over again. It is worth so much to you and it was a wise investment. You might say something like “Man I know this phone was expensive, but it was worth every penny.”
  • Not worth a dime: This is almost like the exact opposite, as you are saying that the subject is worthless. It is worth nothing and certainly not worth you spending any time or effort on it. It is saying that there is no value for this thing you are referring to. You could almost picture somebody saying this at a pawn shop like “Sorry, but that jewelry isn’t worth a dime. It’s worthless.”
  • Worthless: This is very similar to the phrase “not worth a dime” and it basically means that the subject you are referring to isn’t worth anything. It can refer to something that you wouldn’t pay money to. It can also refer to something that you paid good money for and didn’t get what you wanted out of it. This has no value to you and it’s a huge disappointment in the end. You can use this to talk about other things as well, such as the time that you spent on something. You may have spent a lot of time and energy on something and then it failed or was a huge disappointment. You could say something like ““I worked so hard on that project, but it was worthless in the end. I failed.”
  • Worth your while: This means that while the value is high, it may be tough to do. Your while is basically the time you would spend on this, or how hard you would work on something. So you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it if you are going to end up being disappointed. You might say something along the lines of “I know you don’t feel like driving all the way here, but I really think it will be worth your while. We have a huge surprise for you!”

These are all very common phrases that you can turn to and use which contain the word “worth” in them.

They all have different meanings, but they are all a very common part of conversation.


We started off with a great listener question, because it focuses on a big difference in somewhat common words.

Check out the other episode we referenced for some great background.

Practice using these and asking questions centered around these phrases so that you really come to see how they fit into conversation.

Think about what has value in your life, and then it can lead to using these phrases and starting some great conversations.

Try these fun phrases today and you will really learn to see and understand which ones fit in each setting.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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