futile and worthless


Senior Member

I'm taking this test:

What’s done is done. It’s ………….. wondering if you could have prevented it.
A) futile
B) worthless
C) helpless
D) valueless

and I can't understand which is the correct answer. Is the key to the answer the use of the
-ing form or the meaning of the words?

Thank you in advance
  • johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with xqby that ‘futile’ is the right answer, and I think these are the reasons:

    (C) is out because it doesn’t fit at all; (B) and (D) are synonyms—but there can be only one answer, so (A) is the only one left.

    As a double-check, remove the gerund from the question and replace it with the infinitive, and there’s no doubt in my mind that ‘futile’ is the only one that sounds right.


    Senior Member
    You could use "useless" in this position - so there is an idea that it produces nothing, which is only slightly different from having no value or worth. The fact is, it seems logical to me to say "there is no value to be found in wondering if you could have prevented it." Or, it is not worthwhile wondering if you could have prevented it.

    I suspect there is a grammatical function here that I have not yet identified, since the meanings of all of these are so close. Or maybe a matter of collocation?
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