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Home / Learn English Online / How to distinguish “Afraid” and “Scared”
How to distinguish “Afraid” and “Scared”
Every English learner like us often makes many mistakes in using synonyms because we cannot distinguish the appropriate cases and contexts to use them. “Afraid” and “Scared” are an example. They both mean “fear” but have different uses. Therefore, today I will help you how to distinguish them correctly.
Watching: What is Scared
Both are used to talk about someone’s feelings of fear or anxiety.
Structure: afraid / scared of Noun/ doing something: afraid of something, afraid of doing something.
Example: Many children are afraid of / scared of cockroaches and spiders.
Don’t be scared / afraid. He is a kind person. He won’t hurt you.
Structure: Afraid/ scared + to + infinitive is also commonly used to express that someone is afraid to do something.
Example: She was too scared to raise her voice.
I am not afraid to tell the truth.
a. Although it is an adjective, “afraid” is not used before a noun, it only comes after “linking verb” such as “be”, “seem”, “appear”, “feel”,…
Example: She is afraid.
( NOT She is an afraid woman.)
Meanwhile, “scared” can be used in both positions.
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Example: She is a scared woman.
Or: She feels scared.
b. We can use scared by something, but afraid is not used in this expression.
Example: They were scared by the explosion.
( NOT They were afraid by the explosion.)
c.We can use the phrase “I am afraid he/she/we,..” meaning “I’m very sorry” in case the announcement of bad news is a formal, polite way of saying the.
Example: I’m afraid we will be late.
I’m afraid we’ll be late.
Or: I’m afraid so. / I’m afraid not.
We can use the above structure as a short answer to confirm bad news.
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Thus, “scared” and “afraid” differ most in their usage. So with just a little attention, you can use them very accurately. Good luck with your studies.