When ‘risk’ is risky

40% of people living with HIV have risk to develop tuberculosis.

Yes. ‘Risk’ can be a ‘risky’ word in English!

We can assume that if there’s a risk, then there is some kind of ‘bad thing’ causing the risk, for example ‘developing tuberculosis’.

Risk – verb

Here there are basically three options.

  1. 40% of people living with HIV are at risk of developing tuberculosis.
  2. subject + to be + at risk of + name of bad thing
  1. A weak immune system can make it easier to contract tuberculosis, and people living with HIV are particularly at risk.
  2. clause mentioning the bad thing + subject + to be + (adverb) + at risk
  1. 40% of people living with HIV risk developing tuberculosis.
  2. subject + risk + name of bad thing

Risk – noun

Here the ‘bad thing’ is not mentioned.

  • People who have unprotected sex are taking a risk.
  • subject + take + a risk/risks

Notice the collocation – ‘take’ a risk!

Risk as noun is also often used as a noun modifier:

  • Unprotected sex is a high risk activity.
  • subject + to be + a + high risk + noun

Risky – adjective

Here again, the ‘bad thing’ is not mentioned.

  • Unprotected sex is risky.
  • subject + to be + risky


Now try this short practice activity (inspired by my nephew – see featured image!).

Select words from the drop-down menus to complete the text. When you have finished, click 'Check your answers!' for feedback.

OK I understand

People who go skydiving are . Skydiving is . It’s a sport. If your parachute fails to open you death as your body will hit the ground at very high speed.

Answer Key

Answers here, but only if you're really stuck!

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