Afraid and fear
Be afraid is the normal expression for talking about fear.
- He is afraid of the dark.
- Don’t be afraid. (NOT Don’t fear.) (NOT Don’t afraid.)
- Are you afraid of spiders?
- There is nothing to be afraid of.
- She is afraid that you might get angry.
Difference between afraid of and afraid to
- I was afraid of hurting his sentiments. (Because I had no intention to do so.)
- I was afraid to offend him. (Because he might hit me.)
I’m afraid is a polite way of giving information that will not be welcome.
- I’m afraid your wife has fallen ill. (= I am sorry to tell you that your wife has fallen ill.)
- I can’t help you, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid so and I’m afraid not are common in short answers.
- ‘It is going to rain.’ ‘I’m afraid so.’
- ‘Could you help me?’ ‘I’m afraid not.’
Not used before a noun
Afraid cannot be used to modify a noun in the attributive position. Instead, we use other expressions with similar meanings.
- Jane is afraid. (BUT NOT Jane is an afraid woman.)
- Jane is a frightened woman.
We can use very much to modify afraid.
- I am very much afraid, I can’t meet you.