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The word "concerned" always bothers me. I don't know how to use it properly and I looked into the dictionary many times but still couldn't get it. I'd like to give several examples.

  1. I always think about whether my mother, who lives alone, is eating properly. In this situation, can I say "I'm concerned about what my mother eats."?

  2. When I'm with other people, I tend to think that they are doing all right or everything is all right with them all the time. In this case, can I say "I'm concerned about others a lot."?

  3. I'm taking an important test tomorrow. In this case, can I say "I'm concerned about my test for tomorrow."?

Please tell me whether there are more appropriate sentences for these situations.

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    I think you have little cause for concern over your usage of the word concern. All three of those examples are grammatical, sound natural, and they don't stretch the usage of the word beyond its normal bounds. – J.R. Apr 13 '13 at 9:16
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    Is it interchangeable with " worried"? And if so, is there some slight difference in the meaning? – tennis girl Apr 13 '13 at 9:29
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While I agree with J.R.'s comment that your sentences are basically fine, I think at least two could be better.

"I'm concerned about what my mother eats."

is not a problem at all.

"I'm concerned about others a lot."

is less than optimal for two reasons. First, my preference is to use very concerned about others rather than concerned about others a lot, which sounds awkward to me. Second, if you mean what you say ("I tend to think that they are doing all right or everything is all right with them all the time"), then your sentence is actually contradictory, and you don't mean what you say. If you were concerned, you'd be worried that they weren't okay, but you're not worried.

"I'm concerned about my test for tomorrow."

I think it'd be more natural to say "I'm worried about tomorrow's test. I'm usually concerned about others' problems but I worry about myself and my problems.

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    I see. Then there is a difference between worry and concerned. I'm getting to understand it. These subtle differences are a little difficult, but thank you. – tennis girl Apr 13 '13 at 9:43
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    @tennis: I'm concerned means I care. I'm worried means I fear or I'm afraid or I'm anxious. Your concern about something can express a positive as well as a negative feeling, but when you worry about something, it always expresses a negative feeling. – user264 Apr 13 '13 at 10:03
  • Thank you. It's clear now. I had a wrong understanding. – tennis girl Apr 13 '13 at 10:10
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    @Fumble: Who? My wife, for one. Eldest of 6 girls in a Chinese family, she worries "a lot" about her family. That's how Chinese parents are: she also worries about her 2 kids & mine. For her, it's a defining characteristic; not a good one, I'm afraid. Anglophones overuse "very", & in the current era of PC, many would say "very concerned" to put that "Aren't I a good person to be so very concerned about others?" spin on being meddlesome. Seems like normal AmE to me. Maybe Brits, like my mother, meddle more when animals are involved? I don't worry too much about others either: waste of time & E. – user264 Apr 13 '13 at 14:51
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    @tennisgirl: I agree with Bill; concern is a rather generic word that can be used to express angst, worry, apprehension, empathy, caring, or interest. Which shade of meaning it takes on depends on the context. – J.R. Apr 13 '13 at 20:22

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