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After a playdate, would you, Taro's parent, say:

  1. I was afraid that Taro might make himself a nuisance to you.

Or

  1. I am afraid that Taro might have made himself a nuisance to you.

What's the difference between the two?

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    I was afraid suggests that, before the event, you had been worried that he might be a nuisance (whether or not that turned out to be the case). I am afraid suggests that, afterwards, you are worried that he may have been a nuisance, and you don't know whether he was or not. Dec 15, 2021 at 9:22

2 Answers 2

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Both sound idiomatic, but with different meanings.

The first, "I was afraid that..." sounds like you were actually afraid (concerned) that something might happen.

The latter doesn't convey the same kind of concern. "I am afraid that..." is a commonly used way of introducing bad news, similar to saying "I am sorry to say that...". As such, this example sounds more like you are apologising for Taro's behaviour.

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In addition to Astralbee's answer about the meaning of "afraid", the tense makes a difference.

Saying (1) implies that Taro did not make a nuisance. This is a general feature.

For example "I thought it would rain this morning" when said in the evening, implies it did not rain

Saying (2) has no such implication.

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