The definition of concern can be found in any dictionaries like this link.

Now, let's focus on a single example from that dictionary:

Many people expressed concern over moves to restore the death penalty.

I can understand this, according to the dictionary it's an uncountable noun and hence no article, but my question is what change in meaning occurs if I rewrite the above sentence to

  1. Many people expressed the concern over moves to restore the death penalty.

  2. Many people expressed concerns over moves to restore the death penalty.

3 Answers 3


Many people expressed the concern over moves to restore the death penalty.

As a standalone sentence this is unnatural. Upon hearing this, the natural response would be:

What concern are you talking about?

It's only if a particular concern had been previously mentioned that the use of the definite article would be natural:

There is concern about a new proposal. Many people expressed the concern over moves to restore the death penalty.

Your second sentence, using the plural concerns and no article, is fine as a standalone sentence.


Concern can be a verb, a countable noun, and an uncountable noun. As an uncountable noun it refers to a mental or emotional state - to express concern is to indicate that one is experiencing that state. That can also be reflected by the adjective concerned (which has multiple meanings as well), with a meaning close to (but not identical to) worried.

To express a concern or express concerns is using the word in its countable noun sense, which refers to one or more specific concerns - a concern being particular element or thing to be concerned about. So you might say:

I have one or two concerns with this proposal.

And what you mean is there are a small number of specific things that bother you about it.

A person expressing concern might or might not have specific concerns that they could explain, but if they did, they would be expressing those concerns when they explained them.

If someone is expressing the concern, there should be a specific, already explained or identified concern - a particular thing they are worried about. That wouldn't mean they were expressing concern specifically about the death penalty, but that they had a specific concern about it. So you might use that if you had already talked about people being worried about people executed for crimes they didn't commit - and no other specific concerns.


There are no difference in the meaning of the three, the concern would mean that there is only one big concern, and that only one thing could happen. There may be concerns that people may be falsely accused, and other concerns a long with it.

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