18

Sometimes I hear people say 'I don't afraid...'
For example: 'I don't afraid to be alone'
Or 'I don't afraid of the darkness'.

But is it right?
I've always thought that we can only say: 'I'm not afraid of something' of 'I'm not afraid to do something'
And with 'don't' we can say only to someone: 'Don't be afraid'.

Is it possible to say 'I don't afraid', 'You don't afraid' etc.?

  • 3
    You may want to clarify your question: It's possible to say it -- you already state you've heard people say it, so it must be possible -- it's quite possible to say wrong things; this is one. I suspect you don't mean to ask whether it's possible, but whether it's grammatical English. – Glen_b Dec 24 '15 at 5:29
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    Where do you hear people say that? – dan-klasson Dec 24 '15 at 14:43
25

Is it possible to say 'I don't afraid', 'You don't afraid' etc.?

No. It is not possible. See, the verb "be" (is, are, was..) is a copular verb. When the copular is or an auxiliary verb is present in a clause, we do not use the so-called do-support when forming a negative version of that clause. We add not instead.

It is possible. ("is" is a copular verb)
It is not possible.

It was possible.
It was not possible.

He will laugh. ("will" is an auxiliary verb)
He will not laugh.

  • 19
    It's perfectly possible to say or use it, however ungrammatical it may be; the construct "I don't afraid' caught on as a meme, as @Chris Petheram has pointed out. So learners will enocunter this construction, but should know that it is slang. – GoDucks Dec 23 '15 at 15:04
  • Indeed, even among native speakers there are plenty of local dialects around the world that are rife with ungrammatical constructs : youtube.com/watch?v=gnlhKWeDWMA – J... Dec 24 '15 at 12:04
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    I've never heard anyone say "I don't afraid". The only slang I've heard to replace "I'm not afraid" is "I aint never scarred". – Dean MacGregor Dec 25 '15 at 15:01
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    CopperKettle is a pretty cool guy, eh tells people it's impossible to say certain words and he doesn't afraid of anything. – user20827 Dec 26 '15 at 14:16
32

As other answers have pointed out, this is not good grammar, and you are correct that it should be 'be afraid' rather than 'do afraid'.

The reason you still hear it is likely due to a troll post on 4chan which became a meme and, as such, was perpetuated by native speakers, even though they knew it was wrong.

The original post was in December 2007 and concerned Halo / Master Chief.

Potentially NSFW KnowYourMeme reference: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/pretty-cool-guy

  • It is very good to know the origins of a slang. Nice research job Chris. – Mindwin Dec 23 '15 at 15:50
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    Chris is a pretty cool guy, posts answers and doesn't afraid of anything – MikeTheLiar Dec 23 '15 at 15:54
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    @mikeTheLiar StackExchange is a pretty cool guy... – Chris Petheram Dec 24 '15 at 9:02
16

You can say

  • "I don't fear <x>."

  • "I don't have any fear."

  • "I don't feel afraid."

  • "I'm not afraid."

Afraid is something you can be (adjective), not something you can do (verb).

Unfortunately, "I don't afraid" sounds very wrong to native speakers. Unlike some subtle mistakes that we easily overlook, this one is quite distracting and obvious, at least written down.

The meaning is still clear, once you stop and figure it out.

14

All dictionaries list afraid as an adjective so you can't use it as if it were a verb.

Furthermore, the adjective in question can be used only after linking verbs (for example be or feel):

I feel afraid.

Don't be afraid.

Be careful!

Afraid is used only after linking verbs such as be and feel. Don't use it in front of a noun. For example, don't talk about 'an afraid child'. However, you can talk about 'a frightened child'. He was acting like a frightened kid.

The link I provided explains further the use of the word afraid.

5

Afraid is used like this: to be afraid of something.

Perhaps the original source was mixing afraid and fear. Fear can be used together with 'do'.

For example: 'I don't fear ghosts' means the same as 'I am not afraid of ghosts'.

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