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What is the difference between :

  1. Oh, that's very sad. vs
  2. Oh, that's very saddening.

and

I am sad to hear this.

vs

I am saddened to hear this.

2 Answers 2

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Sad is an adjective; sadden is a verb.

If someone said, 'Oh, that's very sad', I'd assume they mean to say that it's just, simply, sad. Just as something is boring, or tedious.

However, if someone said to me 'Oh, that's very saddening', I would assume that my statement had a direct impact on their emotions, and therefore caused them to progress into a state of sadness.

In regards to 'I am sad to hear this' vs 'I am saddened to hear this', I don't notice that much of a disparity between meanings; the result is the same: they're now in a state of sadness.

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In American English, the word "sadden" is uncommon and formal. You would typically hear "sad" used in both places.

The first example would almost always be "that's very sad".

In the second example, you would write "I am saddened" only in a formal setting.

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  • To me (BrE speaker) "sadden" is a normal word, whereas "gladden" is a rare and literary one.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 12, 2018 at 13:41
  • The only verb in English that means to make someone sad is saddened. It is true it is slightly formal. But it is used in speech. Gladden, on the other hand, is completely archaic.
    – Lambie
    Oct 12, 2018 at 13:43
  • This doesn't answer the question at all. Sad and sadden have different meanings. Oct 12, 2018 at 16:12

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