Is there any difference in meaning between these two sentences?

She hesitated to accept the job


She hesitated about accepting the job.

In Merriam Webster's Dictionary the word hesitate has two meanings:

  1. to stop briefly before you do something especially because you are nervous or unsure about what to do
  2. to be unwilling to do something because of doubt or uncertainty

According to the examples in the dictionary, with the first meaning, the sentence can take the preposition 'about', and with the second, we can use an infinitive.

So does that mean in the examples above, "hesitate about accepting the job" shows a short pause before accepting and "hesitate to accept the job" suggests reluctance?

1 Answer 1


I'd be hard-pressed to pick up on any significant semantic difference between the two sentences. For comparison's sake, "hesitant" has only a single definition in Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, OALD, and Macmillan.

In any case, "hesitate to" is consistently much more common regardless of inflection, and I would therefore be hesitant to suggest any other forms. See Ngram charts below.

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