2

I'm sure that from among the following sentences, the first sound natural to natives, but the question is that whereas 'being sorry' and 'being afraid' are the same, then whether 'afraid' is usable in the following ways as numbers 3 and 4 or not?

  1. I’m sorry for being absent last session; I was on a trip.
  2. I’m sorry that I was absent last session; I was on a trip.
  3. I’m afraid for being absent last session; I was on a trip.
  4. I’m afraid that I was absent last session; I was on a trip.

1 Answer 1

4

Afraid in this quasi-apologetic usage always looks to the future (sorry to have to disappoint another person or to have to disabuse them of a notion).

Nbr 4 works only if the fear is of what the person will do or say or feel when you tell them that you missed the last session.

Nbr 3 does not work. Afraid for means something different. To be concerned or worried about someone. I'm afraid for her; she's living in a war-zone.

3
  • 1
    Yes, the use of "afraid" in this context means that you're worried about upsetting someone by breaking a commitment or doing something unexpected. "I'm afraid we're all out of red wine tonight, sir." The use of "I'm <emotion as adjective> for..." is to denote empathy, and can only be applied to another person. "I'm embarrassed for her; she has to speak in front of the entire school!" We can't feel empathy for objects, so you can't be afraid for "being absent," since "being absent" could not feel fear to begin with.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Oct 13, 2014 at 22:09
  • Thanks guys, just one more question. Do the numbers 2 and 4 mean the same thing hear or rather can the be used interchangeably in this context?
    – A-friend
    Oct 14, 2014 at 8:50
  • 1
    @A-friend: 2 and 4 are subtly different. 2 is a straightforward apology. 4 is informing a person, who had been unaware of it, that you were absent.
    – TimR
    Oct 14, 2014 at 12:47

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