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I'm sorry to hear that you won't be able to join the party.

In this sentence, I mean I can be upset, sad, disappointed instead of sorry. In this case, is it possible to use afraid instead of sorry? Can I use ”I'm afraid to hear” as ”I'm sorry to hear”?

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    No, they aren't the same. I'm sorry to hear that S (where S is any sentence) is a conventional expression of condolence. And I'm afraid that S is a conventional notification of bad news (I'm afraid that your plane is delayed). But that's only with tensed clauses, not infinitives. I'm afraid to hear means that the speaker is afraid that the speaker will hear; it has nothing to do with the addressee. – John Lawler Dec 3 '16 at 3:10
  • That's what I confused. and now everxthing is clear. – user208960 Dec 3 '16 at 5:32
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In a comment, John Lawler answered:

No, they aren't the same. I'm sorry to hear that S (where S is any sentence) is a conventional expression of condolence. And I'm afraid that S is a conventional notification of bad news (I'm afraid that your plane is delayed). But that's only with tensed clauses, not infinitives. I'm afraid to hear means that the speaker is afraid that the speaker will hear; it has nothing to do with the addressee.

  • On the other hand, idiomatically one may say either "I'm afraid that I won't be able to join the party" or "I'm sorry to say that I won't be able to join the party" to convey essentially the same meaning: "I won't be joining the party, but I want to be polite about it." – Sven Yargs Dec 5 '16 at 8:01

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