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A vocabulary usage note - afraid of doing / afraid to do

 

A vocabulary usage note - afraid of doing / afraid to do

'be afraid of doing something' and 'be afraid to do something' are interchangeable, when they mean 'do not to want to do something' i.e.
'A lot of women felt afraid of going out alone at night.' (They didn't want to go out...)
'Many people are afraid to go out alone at night' (They don't want to go out...)

we can also explain these phrases as 'think that someting bad will happen if you will do something, so you make sure you won't do it'
'I'm afraid to fail this test.' (I know I will fail this semester if I won't pass this test, so I won't fail it)

In spoken English, 'be afraid of doing something' has one more meaning, which 'afraid to' doesn't have, that is, 'worried that something bad may happen' or on other words 'think someting will probably happen and it will be bad' i.e
'I was afraid of failing this test' (I was worried that I might fail this test; I thought I would probably fail this test)
Notice that we don't know If this person failed this text or not. This structure doesn't gives us such kind of information.

more info / credits
English Grammar in Use, Fourth Edition, Unit 66
http://www.italki.com/answers/question/182712.htm#.USfIbx1g-Ew
http://www.english-test.net/forum/ftopic12868.html
http://oaadonline.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/afraid
http://ldoce.longmandictionariesonline.com (afraid)

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