WordReference Collins English Usage © 2019
afraid - frightened
‘afraid’ and ‘frightened’
If you are afraid or frightened, you feel fear because you think something bad will happen.
The children were so afraid that they ran away.
She felt frightened.
You can also say that you are afraid of someone or something, or frightened of them.
Tom is afraid of the dark.
They are frightened of their father.
If you don't want to do something because you think it might be harmful or dangerous, you can say that you are afraid to do it or frightened to do it.
Many crime victims are afraid to go to the police.
She was frightened to go out on her own.
Be careful
Afraid is used only after linking verbs such as be and feel. Don't use it in front of a noun. For example, don't talk about ‘an afraid child’. However, you can talk about ‘a frightened child’.
He was acting like a frightened kid.
another meaning of ‘afraid’
If you are worried about something, you can say that you are afraid of doing something wrong, or afraid that something will happen. You don't usually use ‘frightened’ in this way.
She was afraid that I might be embarrassed.
She was afraid of being late for school.
‘I’m afraid...'
If you have to tell someone something and you think it might upset or annoy them, you can politely say ‘I’m afraid...', ‘I’m afraid so', or ‘I’m afraid not'. ‘I’m afraid so' means ‘yes’. ‘I’m afraid not' means ‘no’, and both of these expressions are used as responses to questions.
‘I’m afraid Sue isn't at her desk at the moment. Can I take a message?'
‘I hear she’s leaving. Is that right?' – ‘I’m afraid so.'
‘Can you come round this evening?’ – ‘I’m afraid not.'
'afraid' also found in these entries:

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