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What kind of sentence should follow the phrase "I am afraid", assertive or interogative? For example, is the following sentence grammatical?

I am afraid is it appropriate ask me a copy of it.

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closed as off topic by tchrist, FumbleFingers, Hugo, RegDwigнt Apr 7 '13 at 21:57

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Welcome to ELU. I think you will find that questions of this sort are readily answered with a good dictionary, such as the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary; if that leaves you in any doubt, you may click on the edit link above to revise your question, citing what you find in the dictionary and addressing more specific issues. You may also find that this question is better suited to English Language Learners; if so, you may click on the flag link above and ask that a moderator migrate it. –  StoneyB Apr 7 '13 at 15:32

1 Answer 1

(Be) Afraid is a psychological predicate adjective (a "psych-predicate" in the trade) referring to emotions experienced by the subject of the predicate (here, I).

There are a lot of psych-predicates in English; many look like passives because they use predicate adjectives that are either formed or indistinguishable from past participles. However, they're not passives, because they don't normally take a by-phrase to express agent, but rather a noun or a clause of some sort that refers to the cause of the emotion; the noun or clause may well use a preposition, but it won't be by.

E.g, to mention only synonymous predicates (which use of),

  • He is afraid/frightened/scared.
  • ??He is afraid/frightened/scared by Mr. Lloyd.
    (frightened and scared are OK as passives, too, but they they refer to an event, not an emotion)
  • He is afraid/frightened/scared that she'll catch him.
  • He is afraid/frightened/scared to kiss her.
  • He is afraid/frightened/scared of kissing her.
  • He is afraid/frightened/scared of snakes.

Psych-predicates require a human subject (or an anthropomorphized animal, thing, or concept), and often correlate with the words that the participial adjectives are formed from.

E.g, in this case

  • fear/feared/afraid
  • fright/frighten/frightened/frightening
  • scare/scared/scaredy/scary

Some of these predicates take agent subjects and patient objects (The tiger scared the mice), while others take patient experiencer subjects and a prepositional phrase (The tiger is scared of mice), and there are other patterns as well.

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