Don't be afraid of being different.

Don't be afraid to be different.

Is there any difference between the above two sentences?

I usually see 'be afraid of ing' more than to-infinitive.

ps: It's not merely a problem of 'be afraid to or of' but a problem of context plus of or to.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Be afraid of or be afraid to?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 19:09
  • 1
    Mari-Lou A, There is a good answer below. Though the link you provided for me is useful, the example sentence is totally different and answer below is just as good as perfect.
    – gomadeng
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 20:01
  • 2
    I care that future questions of yours show 1. effort in the form of research and 2. the source.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 20:19
  • 1
    Following up on what @Mari-LouA said, this issue comes up so often on ELL that it has a tag dedicated to it (which I've added to this question). It's generally expected that people search this site for duplicates before posting questions. Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 2:19
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? "afraid to miss" or "afraid of missing" Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


Usually when there's a choice between using the gerund ("-ing") or infinitive ("to" + base form), the infinitive form includes a future meaning. That's the case here.

"Don't be afraid of being different" is advice that holds at any time. It means something like, "Don't be afraid of the fact that you're different."

"Don't be afraid to be different" means something like, "Don't be afraid that other people will see you as different." It is advice you'd give to someone before they're about to do something where they have the option of being different, like going into a theatre audition, and they're not sure whether to play it straight or try to be unique.

That said, since fear of being different is mostly fear of being judged in the future, there's not a lot of practical difference between the two, so they're mostly interchangeable.

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