Archive for August, 2016

Afraid, scared, frightened and terrified

August 31st, 2016 in Improve English

These words have very similar meanings and are often used interchangeably.

  • The frightful howls scared us. / The frightful howls terrified us.

Afraid is the most general of these terms. It is used to express a vague or general fear. You can be afraid of something trivial. You can also be afraid of really dangerous things.

  • She is afraid of the dark.
  • I am afraid of thunder and lightning.
  • He is afraid for his life.

The expressions scared, terrified and frightened all imply fear. Scared is mainly used in an informal style. It suggests a mild fear that passes quickly.

  • The noise scared me.
  • Oh, you scared me. I didn’t know you were there.
  • He jumped out of the closet and scared me.

Frightened is more formal than scared. It shows a greater degree of fear.

  • She was too frightened to cry.
  • I was too frightened to move.

Terrified suggests extreme fear.

  • The young soldier was terrified by the battle.
  • The thunderstorm terrified us.
  • The thunder and lightning scared the children.
  • That ghost story scared me.
  • The scarecrows are for scaring away the birds.
  • You frightened the daylights out of me.