'scared of' or 'scared by'

Y0URI

New Member
Polish
Hello,

Today I learned from my girlfriend who attends an English course that her teacher said that the phrases 'scared of' and 'scared by' can be used interchangebly. My question is: Is there really no difference between them in terms of meaning?

Thanks a lot!
 
  • Nadia_Taliba

    Senior Member
    English
    I am thinking of examples in my head and yes that seems to be right.

    E.g. I am scared of ghosts

    I am scared by ghosts

    They mean the same thing

    or

    I am scared of the thought of that

    I am scared by the thought of that

    Both mean the same thing
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    I am thinking of examples in my head and yes that seems to be right.

    E.g. I am scared of ghosts

    I am scared by ghosts

    They mean the same thing

    or

    I am scared of the thought of that

    I am scared by the thought of that

    Both mean the same thing
    For me there is a difference, particularly in the case of:
    (A) I am scared of ghosts (I might say this, but I'd don't believe in ghosts, so it's the possibility (not the reality) that I'm scared of. / (B) I am scared by ghosts (I wouldn't say this, because I don't believe in ghosts, so they haven't had the chance to actually scare me.

    Personally, I am scared of things which may or may not exist or happen (e.g. "I'm scared of catching swine flu"). I am scared by things which actually happened to me in the past (e.g. "I was scared by a fierce dog yesterday". I might also say "I'm scared at the thought of catching swine flu".
     

    envie de voyager

    Senior Member
    english-canadian
    There is a difference. If you are scared of ghosts, you are afraid that they exist and might bother you. If you are scared by ghosts, it means that you are in the presence of ghosts and they are scaring you.
     

    Y0URI

    New Member
    Polish
    Thank you so much for the quick responses. Elwintee and envie de voyager expressed exactly what I felt.
    Just to clarify, you can obviously say:

    'I'm scared of telling her what really happened.'
    (Cambridge Dictionary)

    but can you say
    'I'm scared by telling her what really happened.' ?

    It sounds somewhat strange to me, but I am not a native speaker.
    Thank you very much for your replies!
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    Thank you so much for the quick responses. Elwintee and envie de voyager expressed exactly what I felt.
    Just to clarify, you can obviously say:

    'I'm scared of telling her what really happened.'
    (Cambridge Dictionary)

    but can you say
    'I'm scared by telling her what really happened.' ? No. You can only be scared by a thing (that is to say, a noun).


    It sounds somewhat strange to me, but I am not a native speaker.
    Thank you very much for your replies!
     
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