Avoiding common errors with the word enough.

by Liz Walter

Credit: Getty
Credit: Getty

Enough is a very common word, but it is easy to make mistakes with it. You need to be careful about its position in a sentence, and the prepositions or verb patterns that come after it.

I’ll start with the position of enough in the sentence.

When we use it with a noun, it goes before the noun:

We have enough time to complete the work.

Do we have enough pens for everyone?

We have time enough to complete the work.

When we use enough with an adjective or an adverb, it goes after the adjective or adverb:

Is this coat big enough for Tom?

Can you get there quickly enough?

Is this coat enough big for Tom?

Now let’s look at using enough in negative sentences. With an adjective or an adverb, it’s simple: just add not before the adjective or make the verb before it negative (often using the short form n’t):

He’s not old enough to travel alone.

She didn’t shout loudly enough.

With a noun, there are two ways of doing it. The most common way is to use a negative verb with the subject of the sentence:

There aren’t enough knives and forks.

They didn’t make enough tickets available.

Alternatively, you can add not before enough:

Not enough tickets are available.

Remember that we don’t use enough + noun as the subject of a negative sentence:

Enough tickets aren’t available.

Enough tickets weren’t made available.

Now let’s look at the patterns we use after enough.

If you want to follow enough with a noun, you need to use the preposition for. This is the case whether you are using an adjective, an adverb or a noun:

I have enough money for two tickets.

She spoke slowly enough for me to understand.

Is there enough food for all these people?

And if you want to follow enough with a verb, you need to use a to-infinitive (do not use for):

He wasn’t strong enough to lift the stone.

He ran quickly enough to catch his friend.

We didn’t have enough time to finish our work.

He wasn’t strong enough for lifting the stone.

He ran quickly enough that he caught his friend.

Finally, we also use enough as a pronoun (instead of a noun):

Have you had enough to eat?

I don’t need any more information. This is enough.

In the same way as I explained about enough + noun, we do not use enough as the subject of a sentence:

I didn’t get enough.

Enough wasn’t given to me.

And that’s enough about enough for now! I hope that this post will help you to use it with confidence.

13 thoughts on “Avoiding common errors with the word enough.

  1. Oleg Markin

    The difference in positions before a noun and an adverb/adjective as well as the the usage as a pronoun are new for me, thanks.

  2. badr

    I had problems putting the word in its right position, but after reading this, I think I can use it properly and correctly in a sentence. I am very thankful for the person who clarified all this.

  3. María

    This explanation about “enough” is helpful enough, but I would like to have more examples when it is used with an adverb. I think I have not had enough English practicing lately. Thank you for the tips.

  4. JMario

    Great, Thanx. Brought me back to my Miss. Reynolds days.
    Can you bring up the have and has please.
    Police has / have…..

  5. Marcelo

    Thank you very much for your class, and now I´ve got enough information about enough. Well I think it´s enough!!

  6. Pingback: Avoiding common errors with the word enough. – englishmoreformal

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