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Which one is correct or sounds more natural - " I'm afraid OF speaking or I'm afraid to speak"...

Which one is correct or sounds more natural - " I'm afraid OF speaking or I'm afraid to speak"...

Some people told me that either is correct, now I'm confused... because when I say I'm afraid to speak English, it seems wrong..

Feb 24, 2018 3:40 AM
Comments · 3

Both are correct, but you might choose one or the other for style reasons. For me personally, there is a very slight difference in feeling between these two phrases. Other native speakers might disagree, though. 

I am afraid of speaking English....that's like having a phobia. I'm afraid of heights, I'm afraid of spiders, I'm afraid of the dark. 

I am afraid to speak English...that's more an issue of being timid, and not a phobia. I'm afraid to go bungee jumping. I'm afraid to travel by myself. I'm afraid to go in that part of town. 


I'm afraid of speaking English in front of a lot of people. It makes me very nervous.

I'm afraid to speak English because I know I'll say something wrong. And I hate making mistakes. 

February 24, 2018
I frankly can't hear any difference in meaning myself, nor do I believe many or most other native speakers would either. You might, if you have the time, try to find some definitive answer by checking a number of possible sources,  but I frankly wouldn't spend the time on something as trivial as that. Use either one and in my opinion you are saying the same thing and communicating properly in English. I've used both interchangeably myself and never given a thought to a possible distinction between the two. 
February 24, 2018

I agree with both comments, the matter though not trivial to you is basically unimportant. It would be nice if I could take away your concerns regarding the speaking but only you can do that. I tried with a friend to learn hello and goodbye in Chinese and I wimped out because I felt stupid, the language confuses and intimidates me and I am here mainly to socialize. I admire you for trying but the sooner you bite the bullet and begin speaking, eventually, you will improve and get comfortable. Mistakes are normal and by trying to avoid making them you slow your learning. But don't make life hard on yourself, begin in a safe environment where you feel comfortable and use a friend that will not criticise every word you say.  Try for clear spoken words, do not try to sound like a native or anybody else, embrace your accent and just try a few words, record them and listen back to them without being critical or judgemental. If you find a movie you like then learn some of the lines so you have a reference for listening to the pronunciation. Again do not try to sound like the actor, just listen to their pronunciations.

It sounds complicated but it isn't because I can do it and I am not a brain surgeon or rocket scientist. Just break it down into manageable chunks. And I know you can do anything you choose for yourself.

February 24, 2018
Language Skills
English, Portuguese
Learning Language