Worth, Worthy and Worthwhile

07 July 2023

Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between "worth," "worthy," and "worthwhile."


Hello VOA Learning English,

Ask a Teacher: Worth, Worthy and Worthwhile
Ask a Teacher: Worth, Worthy and Worthwhile

I am Li from China. Could you kindly explain and further explore the differences and usage between these three words: "worth," "worthy" and "worthwhile?"




Thank you, Li, for writing to us. This is a good question to explore parts of speech using the word "worth." Let's examine the differences in parts of speech and how we can use the term.


"Worth" can be a noun. As a noun, it is an expression of value. It can mean an amount of money or something equal to a specific amount.

The Hope Diamond's worth is estimated to be between 200 and 300 million dollars.

I was short on cash, so I put $20's worth of gas in the car.

"Worth" can mean "value" measured by qualities, morals, excellence or wealth.

Knowing your worth can help you get a better salary.

The house's worth has increased over the past few years.

"Worth" can also operate like a preposition or an adjective meaning "equal in value to" or "deserving of."

The necklace is worth $200.

I hope the food at this restaurant is worth standing in this long line!

Some websites say that "worth" is a preposition and others say it is an adjective. In any case, the word is telling us about quality or the amount of some form of value.

Let's move on to an adjective form of "worth."


"Worthy" is an adjective that means having worth, value or importance because of qualities or abilities. It describes something or someone who deserves praise or a reward because of those qualities.

There are many worthy charities to give help or money to.

The student was worthy of many scholarships.

We can add the suffix "-worthy" to the ends of words to make another adjective meaning deserving of being valued.

At Voice of America, reporters write many newsworthy stories.


While "worthy" means that something or someone has value or deserves something because of certain qualities or abilities, "worthwhile" describes something that is worth spending time on or making an effort to do.

It is worthwhile to do the dishes now instead of later.

Many high school students now think that getting a college degree is not worthwhile.

The expression "worth your while" means the same thing.

It is worth your while to study English with VOA Learning English.

Try making some sentences with the words you learned today; it may just be worth your while. And please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Li.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

salary – n. the money paid to a worker for their labor

necklace n. a piece of jewelry worn around the neck

scholarship n. money given for the purpose of attending school­­­­­­