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  1. #1
    Piccolino is offline Newbie
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    Default "worth it" vs "worthy"

    "Worthy" being an adjective, it should be syntactically correct to use it as the qualifier in a "subject" + "linking verb" + "adjective" structure.

    Thus, it should be syntactically correct to say "...it is worthy" rather than "...it is worth it".

    "It is worth it", anyway, seems to be a syntactic abomination.

    Where does "worth it" come from? A grammarian said to me many years ago that it is an American "idiom". He however could not explain why "it is worthy" is considered incorrect vis-à-vis "it is worth it".

    Would anybody volunteer here with an authoritative answer?

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    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: "worth it" vs "worthy"

    They mean different things. It is syntactically correct to say “it is worthy”,
    but not in place of “…it is worth it”, which is semantically different”.

    ‘Worthy’ means ‘merecido’*, or 'merited'.
    ‘to be worth something’ means ‘valer algo’.*

    ‘Vale cinco dollars’ = ‘It’s worth 5 dollars”
    Is it worth 5 dollars? Yes it’s worth it.

    * Collins English-Spanish Dict.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: "worth it" vs "worthy"

    Quote Originally Posted by Piccolino View Post
    "Worthy" being an adjective, it should be syntactically correct to use it as the qualifier in a "subject" + "linking verb" + "adjective" structure.

    Thus, it should be syntactically correct to say "...it is worthy" rather than "...it is worth it".

    "It is worth it", anyway, seems to be a syntactic abomination

    Where does "worth it" come from? A grammarian said to me many years ago that it is an American "idiom". He however could not explain why "it is worthy" is considered incorrect vis-à-vis "it is worth it".

    Would anybody volunteer here with an authoritative answer?
    Being difficult to parse is not the same as being an abomination.

    "It is worthy..." is quite possible, in constructions like "It is worthy of further investigation". "It is worthy" on its own is meaningless (except in quite extreme and improbable contexts). "N is worthy" can have various meanings.

    "Worth it" means 'worth the effort/risk/expense...' or worth some process explained in the context. For example:
    Me: [After making a small purchase in a supermarket]"...Oh, hold on, I have a storecard. Is this worth any loyalty points?"
    Shop assistant: "Yes sir, but you should have shown me the card before I entered your payment. Take this receipt to the Service Desk, they'll give you the points."
    Me: [Looking at my watch] "How many points would I get?"
    SA: "er ... bear with me a moment... yes. One."
    Me: "I don't think I'll bother. It's not worth it.

    If you look on 'worth it' as a simple adjective (which happens to carry around with it an implied cost), "It is worth it" is syntactically no more or less "abominable" than "It is red".

    b

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    Piccolino is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: "worth it" vs "worthy"

    Thanks for the replies.

    The purported meaning that common use has come to give to “worth it” is well understood. However, that does not explain the syntax, or lack of, in it.

    “worth” can be used as a preposition, noun or adjective.

    "it" is a pronoun, and, as such, it can be used in nominative or objective cases. The "worth it" construct gives the appearance of an objective use of "it", but the rub is that objective-case means being the target of the action of a verb. "Worth" is not a verb.

    Again, what's the syntax, if any, therein?

    …or is it that it’s just an American “idiom”, as that grammarian said…as if trying to get the hot potato off his hands.

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: "worth it" vs "worthy"

    Quote Originally Posted by Piccolino View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    The purported meaning that common use has come to give to “worth it” is well understood. However, that does not explain the syntax, or lack thereof, in it.

    “worth” can be used as a preposition, noun or adjective.

    "it" is a pronoun, and, as such, it can be used in nominative or objective cases. The "worth it" construct gives the appearance of an objective use of "it", but the rub is that objective-case means being the target of the action of a verb. "Worth" is not a verb.

    Again, what's the syntax, if any, therein?

    …or is it that it’s just an American “idiom”, as that grammarian said…as if trying to get the hot potato off his hands.
    I'd prefer to use plain English in your first sentence: "syntax, or lack of any, in it". But your (unimpeachable) use of "therein" suggests that you are intent on showing off your grasp of formal English; if so, use 'thereof'.

    Don't look for syntax where it is - as I have explained and you claim to have known already - implicit. The syntax, if you like, is "worth [adjective, as you said] [doing implicit] it [object of the implied verb].

    And it's not just Am E; it's Br E too.

    b

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