Key Difference – Scared vs Afraid
In the English language, the words scared and afraid share a degree of fear and worry although there is a difference between these words in certain situations. Simply scared and afraid can both be used in situations where an individual wishes to express fear. For instance, I am afraid of spiders, rats or bugs. Similarly, one can say I am scared of him, ghosts, etc. These highlight that both scared and afraid can be used in a general sense to express fear. However, the key difference between scared and afraid stems from the scope of meaning that the words capture. To be more explicit, scared is often used strictly to express fears, but the word afraid can be used even to express worry or regret. This is the main difference between the two words. Through this article let us examine this difference between scared and afraid further.
What is Scared?
The word scared is used in the English language to express general fears that an individual has. Let us comprehend this through examples.
She is scared of dogs.
The little girl refused to go to school as she was scared of the new teacher.
She was so scared that she stayed in that exact position without moving at all.
This highlights that the word scared is used to express fears.
What is Afraid?
Unlike the word scared, the word afraid has a broader meaning. On one level, afraid can simply be understood as to be frightened. Look at the examples presented below.
She is afraid of cockroaches.
He is afraid of losing her.
Once again similar to the word ‘scared’ it expresses fear. However, it is necessary to highlight that afraid cannot be used in front of a noun.
On another level, it can also be used to express polite regret. Observe the examples.
I am afraid he won’t be able to make it to the party.
I am afraid you will have to come some other time as he is unavailable now.
This denotes that the word afraid can also be used when expressing regret in a very polite form. These are the main differences between the two words. These differences can be summarized as follows.
What is the Difference Between Scared and Afraid?
Definitions of Scared and Afraid:
Scared: The word is used to express general fears that an individual has.
Afraid: The word is used to express fear, regret and worry.
Characteristics of Scared and Afraid:
Scared: The word is used to express fear.
Afraid: The word is used not only to express fear but also worry and regret.
Scared: Scared can be used in front of a noun (a scared child).
Afraid: Afraid cannot be used in front of a noun.
1. Scary CChyna snarling in 2002 By Joshua S. Higgins [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2. “American-cockroach” by Gary Alpert [CC BY 2.5] via Commons