We are not Afraid

on the platform
at moriza

After the London Terror attack on Westminster Bridge, a meme circulated online showing the phrase:

We are not Afraid

in a London Underground Logo as if it were the name of a station.

The Vocabulary of Fear

Fear is a noun but there are three adjectives to describe fear.

Adjectives to Describe Fear

I am afraid.

I am frightened.

I am scared.

Negative in Grammar

I am not afraid.

I am not frightened.

I am not scared.

Fear is a Negative Emotion

We should be free from fear. We have a right to freedom from fear.

The carrot is more effective than the stick.

Adjective – Afraid

Afraid is a normal adjective but it cannot be used before a noun. We can say:

He is afraid.

but we cannot say:

“He is an afraid boy.”

Adjective – Scared

You can say:

He is scared.


He is a scared boy.

The root of the adjective “scared” is the verb “scare”.

Past Simple Tense

He scared me.

Passive Present Simple Tense

I am scared.

Talking about an external situation – adjective

It is scarey.

Adjective – Frightened

The adjective “frightened” can be used before the noun or after a verb:

They were frightened.

The frightened tourists ran away when they saw the attack.

Pairs of Adjectives

frightened – frightening
bored – boring
interested – interesting

The first adjective in the pair is an “ed” adjective. It refers to the feeling or sensation which has been received. The person has received it so:

a frightened dog
a frightened victim
a frightened child

The second adjective is an “ing” adjective and it puts the feeling or sensation out:

a frightening movie
a frightening attack
a frightening incident

Degrees of Fear

These are the same:

He was scared.
He was afraid.
He was frightened.

Look at the scale:

He was nervous.
He was afraid/scared/frightened.
He was very afraid/scared/frightened.
He was terrified.

Being Polite – Politeness

It also has another function. That is the function of politeness.

Look at this conversation:

– I am having a dinner party on Saturday night would you like to come?
– I would love to come but I am afraid I cannot because unfortunately I have to work.

In this case “afraid” means “sorry”. Look at another example:

I am sorry I don’t understand.
I am afraid I don’t understand.

Develop your Vocabulary – click the links

Vocabulary is the Key

The Work Page
Links to More Vocabulary Lessons

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