The word "fear" can be used as a verb or as a noun. It’s similar to the words "scare" and "afraid," but these words are not direct substitutes for "fear."

fear of the dark

Look at the differences among these sentences:

  • He has a fear of the dark. ("Fear" is a noun in this sentence.)
  • He fears the darkness. ("Fear" is a verb in this sentence.)
  • He’s afraid of the dark. ("Afraid" is an adjective.)
  • The dark scares him. ("Scare" is a verb.)
  • He’s scared of the dark. (the word "scared" can be used as an adjective or as a verb.)
  • She has a fear of snakes.

(Snakes scare her. She’s afraid of them.)

fear of snakes

  • He has a fear of the dentist.
  • He fears going to the dentist.

fear of dentist

  • He has a fear of the water.
  • He fears the water.

(He’s afraid to go into the water.)

fear of water
  • He has a fear of dogs.

(Dogs scare him. He’s afraid of dogs.)

fear of dogs

It’s healthy to have a sense of fear. In fact, fear is what keeps us safe. If we had no fear, we’d probably do a lot of stupid things that would result in injury or death.

Do you have trouble making "f" sounds? If so, click here for some pronunciation practice.

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This page was first published on July 21, 2012. It was updated on March 1, 2016.