In addition to this post: Is there a difference between 担心 (dānxīn) and 着急 (zháojí)?

HSK contains a lot of words which relate to being worried: 发愁着急担心关心操心烦恼 - am trying to distinguish the difference between them. This is what I have so far, which I assume is accurate (please let me know if not!)

发愁 - worried, concerned - but not in an emotional way, Ex: the manager is worried about finding enough qualified staff / the economic situation.

着急 - adj. worried, anxious (optional: that can cause reduction in quality of output). Ex: Mother can't find her kids; (+ optional:) child is about to give a piano recital.

担心 - v. to worry about possible future event, but assume that it won't come to pass - Ex: to be worried about the small chance of not passing an exam.

关心 - v. care, worry in a general sense, i.e. not for a reason that is currently evident - mother worries about her children, i.e. cares for them, likes them, but there is no immediate danger or risk.

However, I am quite unsure about these two:

操心 - Not sure what kind of worry this is and how it can be differentiated from the other entries

烦恼 - v. to be worried, n. worry (emotionally disturbed) - Or does this mean annoyed?

Any help with understanding these would be much appreciated! Many thanks in advance

1 Answer 1


发愁 - The things to worry are like huge fruits hanging on their stem. It burdens.

着急 - So worried to urge oneself to "do something!" (at all)

担心 - Concerned about something, say a friend's health. The heart feels like hanging in the air.

关心 - Generally care about something, may or may not to an extent of concerning. (Btw, I so agree with your definition for this one)

操心 - Devote oneself into something, put a lot of efforts or thinking's into, because one cares about it or is concerned about it. For example, a parent may be so worried about the child's study, that they take a lot of efforts to research which school is better, which teacher is better, which major is safer, etc.

烦恼 - It can be both a word or a noun, either "to worry about" or "worry". But the degree of worry can be a bit intense. 烦 means annoyance and 恼 means anger. They together lean more towards annoyance, or generally anything that's mentally disturbing or causes discomfort. Or as a verb, it means staying full of those annoying emotions.

  • Thanks ever so much for those defintions. Will try and memorise them! On a side note, if I say 我操心为儿子找到一个合适的大学名额。Have I started looking for it (i.e. 操心 means 'to put all your heart into) or have I not started looking (i.e. I am just concerned about how it will go (well or badly) because making sure my son gets into a good uni is important to me)? Or would the second scenario be more of a 发愁?
    – Hashamyim
    Mar 30, 2020 at 23:11
  • Sorry, to clarify, my question is really whether 操心 describes the worry or the effort
    – Hashamyim
    Mar 30, 2020 at 23:12
  • 操心 is kind of both. When you say 操心, I feel like most of the time someone already put some effort to planning, at least. And conventionally, if there is 为, it's 为()操心 instead of 操心为(). So the sentence would end up like 我为儿子找到一个合适的大学名额操心. Apr 19, 2020 at 7:34

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