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Afraid sometimes means frightened and sometimes means worried.

  • I'm afraid of spiders.
  • I'm afraid of losing my job.

It is also used in polite phrases to say 'don't hesitate', to apologise, or to introduce a phrase that says something the listener doesn't want to hear.

  • Don't be afraid to ask if you need anything.
  • I'm afraid I won't be able to make the party this evening. I'm ill.
  • I'm afraid you have failed your driving test, Miss Jenkins.
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Afraid is followed by that + clause, by the infinitive, or by a preposition + noun/-ing.

  • I'm afraid of the dark.
  • I was afraid that he might not want to see me again.
  • He isn't afraid to speak his mind.
  • Parents are often afraid for the safety of their children.
You cannot use afraid before a noun.
  • *an afraid man

  • Use frightened or scared instead.

Note the expressions with afraid when confirming bad news or contradicting good news.

  • 'I've failed, haven't I?' 'I'm afraid so.'
  • 'I've passed, haven't I?' 'I'm afraid not.'
Check out other related words
  • sorry
  • frightened of
  • worried about
  • regret

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