When we want to talk about the thing that makes us afraid, we say “afraid of”. Some people are afraid of flying in aeroplanes. Some little children are afraid of the dark. My daughter is afraid of spiders.
Sometimes, however, we use the word “afraid” in a different way. We use it when we have to tell someone something which is unpleasant or unwelcome or upsetting to them. If we say “I am afraid that…” it makes what we have to say a little softer and less unpleasant. Lets look at some examples.
Kevin comes home from work. He wants to watch the world cup football on the television. But Joanne has bad news for him. First, the television has broken; and second, her mother is coming to supper. Joanne's mother doesn't like football, nor does she like Kevin.
So Joanne says, “Kevin, I know you want to watch the football tonight. But I am afraid that the television isn't working properly. And I am afraid my mother is coming to supper. Why don't you go to the pub to watch the football. I will tell Mum that you are working late tonight.”
Kevin's friend George often arrives late for work, and often his work is poor. His boss calls him into his office. He says, “Unless your work improves, I am afraid you will need to look for another job.”
Jessica and her children are planning a picnic tomorrow. But then Jessica listens to the weather forecast. She tells the children, “I am afraid its going to rain tomorrow – lets have our picnic at the weekend instead”.