Is there any difference between the two following sentences?

  1. I’m sort of worried about Jenny.

  2. I’m a little worried about Jenny.

What I found is sort of is mainly used in spoken English, and a little is not. They both have the meaning to some degree. Are they interchangeable when they both have this meaning in spoken English?

1 Answer 1


Sort of (or kind of) come from the notion type of - like an apple is a sort of fruit, a cauliflower is a kind of vegetable.

The terms sort of, and kind of are applied metaphorically to lots of abstract ideas, as well as to objects.

"I'm kind of thinking she may win", means that the possibility of her winning is the type of sentiment you have on the matter.

Equally "I'm sort of wondering if there is any point in going to see him - he may be out".

So sort of and kind of do boil down to the same thing as "a little", in a metaphorical sense. But the terms are thoroughly idiomatic, when used in this way.

  • 1
    In my usage, "sort of worried" would be a shade lesser than "a little worried". I don't know how universal that is.
    – Reed Wade
    Apr 24, 2019 at 12:15
  • @ReedWade Yes. "Sort of worried" means perhaps, not exactly worried, but worried in some sense that is close to being worried. But if you are a "little worried", you are definitely worried, but in a small way. I'm not sure how clear that is! But certainly the second sounds more worried than the first!
    – WS2
    Apr 26, 2019 at 22:49

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