As you know, the word "burden" depending on context, can convey various meanings. One of its connotations is "something difficult or worrying that you are responsible for", which is in my question. I was wondering which choice below sounds more idiomatic to you:

  • I have three unemployed sons sitting at home. I have to work in my 70s to put bread on their table. They are...........

a. a burden to me
b. burdens to me
c. a burden on me
d. burdens on me

Whereas the word "burden" is a countable noun here, and the subject of the sentence refers to three youths which are actin as dead-weights to their father, to me, the most natural one is "d", however I have no idea whether the other options would work here or there is something the matter with them which I need to be aware of.

Please kindly explain that to me.

1 Answer 1


Either "burden" or "burdens" fits. It's a question of how the speaker is thinking of them, and I don't see any reason to choose one over the other, given just that sentence.

As to the prepositions, saying "They are a burden on me." is a simple statement about how they weigh on me.

Saying "They are a burden to me." is a statement about how I regard them, that is, what they mean to me.

The difference is subtle, and doesn't change the meaning much, if at all.

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