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What's the right way of using the figure of fire in describing how you are afraid of something?

those algebra tests that I was scared of like of fire

those algebra tests that I was scared of as of fire

those algebra tests that I was scared of as fire

those algebra tests that I was scared of like fire

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closed as too localized by RegDwigнt Oct 18 '12 at 12:06

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This is looking a lot like someone's grammar homework! I'll take what's behind Door #4 (like fire). – Zairja Aug 23 '12 at 20:49
Please consider supporting the proposal for a StackExchange site for English Language Learners:http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/41665/english-language-learn‌​ers – Zairja Aug 23 '12 at 20:58
Those algebra tests scared me as much as any fire could. – Jim Aug 23 '12 at 21:03
How about: "Those algebra tests scared me like fire!" – J.R. Aug 23 '12 at 21:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

All four alternatives are basically awful. Native English speakers wouldn't normally use this construction, because it's too unwieldy. No "relational conjunctions" sound natural here.

I don't know any "as fearful/frightened/afraid/etc. as a/the xxxx" that are particularly widespread across region or era. Certainly fear of fire has no special significance in normal speech.

So OP has some work to do constructing a sentence to convey his intended meaning - otherwise the listener is likely to end up thinking "Why is he talking about fire?". I'd suggest maybe...

Those algebra tests scare me like the fires of hell!

Still in the Christian tradition, a more "idiomatic" fear that comes to mind is...

Those algebra tests put the fear of God into me!"

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Those algebra tests scare the hell out of me. – user16269 Aug 24 '12 at 4:27
@David Wallace: Yes, that's another common one. But as with put the fear of God into me, we're drifting some way from OP's original wish to equate his fear of the tests with his fear of fire. – FumbleFingers Aug 24 '12 at 15:18

Personally, I'd say, "those algebra tests that I was as scared of as fire", but since you can only pick one of those four I'll go with the fourth one.

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But would it not sound then as if I was comparing myself to fire? – brilliant Aug 23 '12 at 21:05
@brilliant: in a word, no. – Marthaª Aug 23 '12 at 22:17
@Marthaª - It's because of having 'of' in there, right? – brilliant Aug 23 '12 at 22:30

Most euphonious would be "I feared those algebra tests like fire."

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