How to express fear in English

Listen to the podcast first then read the article

A strange sound makes you up one morning. The sound of something tiny, moving around quickly. You wonder if it’s an insect, some kind of bug. But, where is it? On the wall? In your bed? On the floor?

Suddenly, you’re wide awake. Your eyes wide open in the darkness.

The bug isn’t on the wall, nor is it on the floor or even in your bed.

The bug is inside your ear. It’s running around inside your ear!!

Yesterday, I read a news story about singer Katie Melua. She had to go the doctor to have a spider removed from inside her ear. She seemed amazingly calm about it but I would have been petrified.

I’m scared of spiders! In fact, I’m terrified of spiders!

In this article, I’m going to give you a few common phrases to express fear in English.

FEAR is an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad that is happening or might happen.

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

In English, we choose words to express the level of fear we feel about something.

I’m petrified of spiders

I’m terrified of spiders

I have a terrible fear of spiders

I’m really scared of spiders

I’m really afraid of spiders

I’m really frightened of spiders

I have a fear of spider

I’m scared of spiders

I’m afraid of spiders

I’m frightened of spiders

I am a little (bit) scared of spiders

I’m a little (bit) afraid of spiders

I’m a little (bit) frightened of spiders

We can also use this structure:

Spiders petrify me

Spiders terrify me

Spiders frighten me

Spiders really scare me

Spiders scare me

Spiders scare me a little (bit)

There are a number of colloquial (everyday language used mainly in spoken or informal communication) in British English, such as the following:

Spiders frighten the life out of me

Spiders scare the hell out of me

Spiders scare the shit out of me (this contains the word ‘shit’ which is a mild swear word, which you shouldn’t use when speaking to your grandmother).

So, it’s over to you.

What are you scared of? What frightens the life out of you?



4 thoughts on “How to express fear in English

  1. I’m scared of suffering. I thing there should be a different sort of biological device to warn us that something is wrong in our body. Do you agree?


    • Yes Ferran. That would be very helpful. Maybe we had a biological warning system in the past but we have lost the art of listening to it in the modern world.


  2. A useful article! Thank you! But I was wondering if it existed the verb to fear. I’m saying this because I have read the expression “Don’t fear!” Does it exist?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s