Comments: 30
silverneurotic 9 years ago
Afraid for
Krazykiwi @ Kiwitopia 9 years ago
Afraid for

As for the train, most native speakers would never break that into two sentences at all, it'd be "I'm afraid the train will not come on time and we'll be late".

You could maybe sort of get away with something like "I'm afraid about global warming" (but even then... "of" would be a lot more likely for a native speaker)
Thank you! I'm really out of depth here. And after so much talk on a subject my brain turned into mush and now I know less than ever :/
If your afraid about someone's soul, you're afraid /of/ their soul. For and about have completely different meanings, and they chance the entire context of that sentence.

if you're afraid for someone's soul, you're afraid for them. So without knowing the context of the argument, I can't really say. For could potentially be correct - but not if they /meant/ for. Even in the soul sentence, if you're afraid of someone, of their soul, then for could potentially be correct even if not the best way to phrase that sentiment. (I'm afraid of you because you're an evil bastard is a little more clean, for example.)

I suspect they meant for, and you're correct, but consider this me asking for clarification.
The question isn't 'of' vs 'for'. The question is: do words 'afraid about' go well together? An, if so, in what context?
Krazykiwi @ Kiwitopia 9 years ago
Ahh. Put that way, "afraid about" would not feel like a natural or idiomatic construction in any variant of English I'm familiar with.

But what Bookstooge said (of course, these are the same people who write "are" for "our", and say "I could care less, so who cares what those people say, they're barely functional in English to start with.)
Ah, yes, in certain contexts. If you're afraid about something you are afraid of it - global warming. You're not afraid for global warming - as that implies you are afraid about what will happen to global warming. (And I've yet to meet someone who's rooting /for/ global warming. That is - no one is afraid for global warming, although many are afraid about global warming. Fear for=afraid about person/things well being. I'm afraid for my things - or could be afraid about them being stolen, for example, but not afraid about them. Fear about=being afraid of something. I'm not afraid my things will get up and attack me.) 'Fear about' and 'fear for' are two different phrases with two distinct meanings.

Of course, I'm not, say, a writer so if someone who is and who's studied the language more than I have wants to bitchslap me with a well thought out argument, I will gladly take back my argument and concede to their point.
No, I have fears about things. They're just not the same things I fear for, if that makes sense. Fear about=/=fear for. Or fear of.
Krazykiwi @ Kiwitopia 9 years ago
Even then grim, wouldn't you be more likely to say "I'm afraid alligators in the sewers will climb out my bath drain" than "I'm afraid about the alligators in the sewers"?

I guess what I'm getting at is, the construction is certainly possible, and has a fairly specific meaning (as you say, afraid /of/ ), but I can't picture most people using "afraid about" naturally in a sentence, particularly spoken.
So: 'I fear about his future' would mean something similar to 'I worry about his future'? I'm really lost. Dictionaries don't include 'afraid about' as a collocation at all so I can't find any explanation. Could you maybe give me a few examples of how it's used, Grim?

To recap:
a) it's possible
b) not very natural/ common

Am I getting it somewhat correct? Krazykiwi, what do you think?
Men have fears about aging. People have fears about changes. Teenagers have fear about going to college. The more simplistic construction? It's plausible. (Google search for the win, by the way.

And I've already conceded that fear about someone's soul is a rather clunky way of phrasing things. (Even in the soul sentence, if you're afraid of someone, of their soul, then for could potentially be correct even if not the best way to phrase that sentiment. I'm afraid of you because you're an evil bastard is a little more clean, for example.) < -- from further above.

I'm not arguing that fear about is the bestest way to phrase stuff evah. I'm just saying 'fear about' itself can be used, and is used differently than 'fear for'.

My understanding is that fear about a soul is usually not what's meant, and it's usually fear for. (You're afraid the person is making a poor decision that will impact them badly. Fear for them. If you're afraid /about/ them, my understanding, given the usual context of fear about, is that you'd be afraid that they would do something evil to you. Or even inadvertently harm you somehow, but not that you're afraid for their soul.)

And I'm sorry if I'm not being super clear. I've had a low-level migraine as of late - the past couple of hours - and it's getting worse. I feel like I'm becoming more incoherent, so I'm going to bow out of this conversation for now since it's just making my head pound. I will check back whenever I feel better to clarify my position if I can. (I'm sorry, this is a kind of shitty thing to do, and I'm not going to be clever about me being afraid this will be seen as a chickenshit move. I'm just going to say that I do promise to try to come back later tonight if possible - maybe dinner will help? - or tomorrow morning if not tonight.)

Sorry - yes, I think fear for is more common than fear about - but I haven't done any studies. I did link you to some examples in usage. Hope that helps.
Thnk you very much! I totally understand you may not be feeling well. I'm just grateful anyone bothered to answer me at all :D It helped.
Krazykiwi @ Kiwitopia 9 years ago
I think Grim actually clarified it in my head a bit :)

I was thinking of spoken language: I still think it's not something most people would *say*, but it might be something you could write, particularly if you're talking about fairly generalized fears like the examples Grim gave. Even then, "I have fears about.." == "I am afraid of". It also occurs to me that 'fear of' and 'fear about' would both be a lot more common than afraid in any case.

So yes, acceptable, but not the natural way to /say/ it (as opposed to possibly write it).

Did that help any?
You helped more than I did, kiwi! Thank you!

And I'm feeling a little better after dinner. Still not up to reading prose so I'm going to delve into the graphic novels I took from the library.
Nitchslap'd 9 years ago
if you look at the definition of the word "about" it becomes clear that you can not be afraid about a soul. You can be afraid of the idea of a soul but not of the soul itself.
It should be: I'm afraid for your soul.
Regarding the train, I agree with Krazykiwi
Thank you! Could you be 'afraid about' something else then? Is it used at all?
I must disagree, respectfully. By those definitions, fear about anything doesn't make sense. You can be just as afraid about someone's soul as you can be about global warning, etc.

None of those definitions fit fear about for anything at all.

Unless, of course, this is more of a philosophical argument about souls and what they are. That's a totally different argument. (And might make fear about a soul a moot point for some people.)

As an idiom, fear about makes sense. If you take 'fear' and 'about' and try to separate them given that definition of the world about, then, no, it doesn't make sense ever.
Nitchslap'd 9 years ago
You can be afraid of (phobia) something, afraid for (worried/concerned) something but afraid about (used to indicate and estimated time or space) isn't correct grammatically.
I checked with my previous boss who taught college level grammar. Afraid about isn't the correct use of the phrase though it is becoming accepted more as our writing and grammar skills decline.

I have to cut this short for now but I'd love to talk more about this. It's so interesting. Of course this is just my opinion.
Ah. So incorrect but used often enough to be common? That makes sense.

And for me it either works for everything or nothing, and this sounds like nothing but grammar going down the tubes. Which I normally don't like, but I honestly don't find afraid about hard to swallow. I don't know why, it just don't bother me. That's not to say it makes it right, just that I'd done some basic research, figured it was an idiom more than anything, and then curled up in pain for an hour. My bad.

Ignore my previous arguments: they hold true for how people /intended/ to use that phrase/idiom/whatever, but I've been corrected. It is, in fact, grammatically incorrect. I wouldn't bounce a book out of my bed for that, but I'd mention it in my review!
Nitchslap'd 9 years ago
Sorry to hear you are feeling bad. Get well quickly friend.
Thank you! I'm just sorry I made a fool of myself in this thread. Going to sleep off the migraine, which got a bit better, but, yeah... it's making me exhausted as well as sloppy.

Thanks for the extra info, as well. I shall refrain from being foolish about this particular phrase from now on!
Murder by Death 9 years ago
Anhec - I'll just jump in here because I am spending the weekend with my bff, who is otherwise intelligent in all ways, but does say "afraid about" in spoken conversation quite a bit. I personally believe it's a social corruption of "afraid of". It can also be a corruption of "fears about" as in: "I am afraid about spiders coming up the drains" ("I am afraid of spiders coming up the drains".) or "I'm afraid about going across country all alone" (I am afraid of going across country all alone.")

To fear for is to fear on behalf of someone(thing) else. "I fear for Suzy's continuing good health"

I would classify "afraid about" in the same container as "ain't"; not high english, but acceptable to the general public.
Debbie's Spurts 9 years ago
I'd only use "afraid about" to mean "afraid of." And even then I would consider it nonstandard English even though not wrong. I would also suspect that U.S. English was not their native language. And suggest any number of rewordings including replacing "about" with "concerned" or "worried" ...

If I encountered "afraid about" being used to mean "afraid for," I would consider it incorrect usage (and again suspect that U.S. English was not the native language ).
Krazykiwi @ Kiwitopia 9 years ago
And tomorrow, let's do the oxford comma :)
Debbie's Spurts 9 years ago
Well, non-standard use is not necessarily the same thing as "wrong" or "incorrect." Non-standard can shake a reader out of their immersion in a good read if we're talking about someone's writing. What my old editor would call "fouling the prosody" of the thing like hitting the wrong note on a musical instrument.

"About" and "For" are just in no way synonymous; "about" and "Of" would need context to determine if could safely be exchanged (unlikely).

Usually if you have to think too hard about it, re-wording is the correct answer.