16

Is the expression "very worth" proper English, and if not, what are some alternatives?

Example:

This presentation is very worth watching in its entirety.

42

It's well worth watching

would be my preference

From Lexico

  • A short train journey to the north, Blair Atholl and Atholl Castle are well worth a visit.

  • ‘The book is well worth reading and you can make up your own minds.’

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    Yes, this is definitely the best answer. Ngram reveals that it is vastly more common than "very worth" and "very much worth" combined. – Especially Lime Jun 3 at 13:24
  • I think "very worth" is more of a local phrase in England, and somewhat archaic in most locales. – Cristobol Polychronopolis Jun 3 at 19:00
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    @TonyK "very well worth" is proper English, which positively answers the question, but it's not (the most) idiomatic. – Zachiel Jun 3 at 20:37
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    While this is a perfectly acceptable substitute, it’s not an answer to the question. The existence of alternatives, better or otherwise, is irrelevant to the question of whether or not this particular construction is grammatical and comprehensible. – KRyan Jun 4 at 14:39
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    @Christobol Polychronopolis - I hear "very worth" fairly regularly here in Southern Ontario, Canada, where I have lived for 65 years. It's not as regional as you think! ;-) – Henry Jun 4 at 15:30
18

I find "very worth watching" to be acceptable English. The intensifier "very" applies to the entire adjective expression "worth watching".

This is a link to an ngram comparison of the two expressions, "very much worth", and "very worth".

Ngram "very worth, very much worth"

Examples of the use of the phrases in books are linked at the bottom of the page. As usual, some of the examples don't fit, but many of the examples of "very worth X" are apt.

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    "Very much worth" sounds fine to me but "very worth" sounds wrong. The Ngrams comparison surprised me. – Kevin Jun 3 at 14:22
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    Agreed. The only reason "very worth" sounds wrong is because it's only including half the adjective, which is "worth watching". It can be "extremely worth watching" or "kinda worth watching" or "not worth watching" or "twice as worth watching" or indeed "very worth watching". – Carl Leth Jun 3 at 16:27
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    Try this Ngram. Yours is misleading. – Peter Shor Jun 3 at 22:42
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    It's misleading. It seems to show that very worth watching is just as acceptable as very much worth watching. In fact, there are some native speakers who would never say very worth watching, but only very much worth watching. See, for example, this discussion. – Peter Shor Jun 4 at 1:26
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    Looking more closely it seems that the majority of occurrences of "very worth" come from the specific phrase "very worth while". So I think @PeterShor is correct that the original Ngram tells us very little about the validity of "very worth [gerund]". – Especially Lime Jun 4 at 11:14
9

Not in this context (see other answers); but the phrase "very worth" can be used, albeit from old English, in a different context:

Losing my fish took my very worth from me

very here emphasises the completeness and importance of the worth that has been lost

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    Absolutely correct answer, however, the context is totally different than the example sentence used in the OP. – FreeMan Jun 4 at 13:43
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    @FreeMan yes, and I do state that in my answer - I just wanted to give a more rounded view of when that phrase would be relevant - albeit in a different context – simonalexander2005 Jun 4 at 14:45
  • Yes, I see that now. Somehow I totally missed "Not in this context". Mea culpa. – FreeMan Jun 4 at 14:55
3

Adjectives can be modified by adverbs. The adjective "worth" can be modified by the adverb "very".

Its use as an adjective in "This presentation is very worth watching in its enterity." is recognized by definition 9.c.(b) in the Oxford English Dictionary:

  1. Sufficiently valuable or important to be treated or regarded in the way specified; deserving of the time or effort spent.

This is divided into three sections, depending on whether its complement is a) a noun or a pronoun, b) an infinitive, or c) a verbal noun or gerund.

c. With verbal noun or gerund as complement.

"Watching" here is such a verbal noun.

Further, the verbal noun can be (a) preceded by a determiner, or (b) not.

(b) With unmodified verbal noun or gerund, as worth trying.

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  • Thanks, I was starting to wonder whether English had any dictionary/grammar books :-) Looks like GPT-3 and other statistical pre-trained language models mirror quite well how most people learn a language and write it after all (i.e. imitating existing examples without thinking about rules). – Franck Dernoncourt Jun 3 at 21:15
  • I don't see how your argument leads to your conclusion. No-one would dispute that "worth watching" is a valid usage, but your final point indicates that "watching" can be preceded by a determiner, not that "worth" can. Of course it can be, but the question is what is the right determiner to use; after all, "worth very watching" doesn't make any sense, even though it is grammatically acceptable to have a determiner in that position. – Especially Lime Jun 4 at 10:50
  • "very" is an adverb, not a determiner. Determiners are words like "the", which I recall once being considered adjectives, but they fail tests like "can be modified by adverbs". The final point isn't really arguing anything; I'm just pointing out which of the two parts of definition 9c apply to the phrase "worth watching". – chepner Jun 4 at 11:12
  • Also, I'm trying to make the answer as descriptive (vs prescriptive) as possible. I changed the word "established" to "recognized" in the description of how the OED entry is presented. – chepner Jun 4 at 11:13
  • At least according to many analyses, worth is not an adjective here, but. a preposition. Do you put very in front of prepositions? Actually, you do sometimes. You can say very under the weather, but I don't think you'd say very under his influence — you'd probably say very much under his influence. So is very worth grammatical. It's debatable. – Peter Shor Jun 4 at 11:18
2

My common casual usage if I were speaking extemporaneously would most likely be to use "really" for emphasis.

It's "really worth watching".

If I was suggesting it had particular value and wanted a more formal nuance I would would say "well worth watching". If I were writing E.G. email I would probably use "well".

I am a native American English speaker with a BA. I would probably never say "very worth watching". Don't ask me why. In my social circle that would sound awkward.

Just my typical usage.

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1

"Very much worth" is a good choice. "Very worth" is technically good grammar, but nobody ever says it.

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0

You could also use This presentation is very worthwhile watching in its entirety.

For me this is a much closer / smaller change, and reasonably natural usage.

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-3

No.

You could say "very much worth," but it's still a bit awkward. Some alternatives:

  • It's very much worthwhile to watch the presentation in its entirety.

  • It's very much worth your while to watch the presentation in its entirety.

  • You will find it very valuable to watch the presentation in its entirety.

  • Watching the presentation in its entirety is very worthwhile.

  • Watching the presentation in its entirety is very much worth your while.

  • The presentation is very worthwhile to watch in its entirety.

  • The presentation is very much worth your while to watch in its entirety.

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    I down-voted because "No." without explanation is not useful. – ColleenV Jun 3 at 20:29
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    I don't see very much worth as awkward. – AbraCadaver Jun 3 at 20:46

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