A man feared his wife was not hearing as well as she used to, and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family doctor to discuss the problem.

I'm talking about the first sentence. I can not understand its meaning and its structure (grammar). There are two verbs in the sentence without adding -ing to the second one (feard, was). So, I think the word "that" is removed from the sentence. The original sentence is:

A man feared that his wife was not hearing as well as she used to.

That's what I think but I'm not so sure.. Is that correct?

After adding the word "that", I still don't understand the usage of the word "feared". For me, It does not make sense. Why the man is afraid? I think it's better to say:

"A man thought that ..." or "a man believed that ..."

So, what's the usage of the word "feared" ?

  • Yes, a reduced that-clause.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


A man feared that his wife was not hearing as well as she used to.

You are correct. As used in this sentence, "fear" is used idiomatically to mean "was concerned." It is an expression that is fairly common to native English speakers.

For instance, if I'm paying for something at the store and hand the cashier a large denomination bill, I might check my pocket for coins and say to her,

"I fear I don't have any change,"

so that she can go ahead and count out the right amount of coins and bills from her drawer to give back to me. It does not mean that I am literally afraid; in this case, it is just part of a polite expression.

Likewise, the use of "that" in the original sentence is optional, but once again you are correct in analyzing its absence to help make better sense of the whole sentence.

Your English is excellent!

  • 1
    I would be more likely to say "I'm afraid I don't have any change." Fear/feared seems more formal or less colloquial in AmE. ["I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" ](youtu.be/ARJ8cAGm6JE?t=58s) and not "I'm sorry Dave, I fear I can't do that." Maybe there's a BrE/AmE difference there?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 14:20
  • 1
    Fear definitely gets used more in BrE than AmE. "Fear not!" vs "Don't be afraid!", "I fear there's not enough time and I will miss my train" vs "I think...", "I fear her condition is getting worse." vs "I'm concerned..."
    – Peter
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 16:14
  • 1
    Yep, Americans use "afraid". A man was afraid his wife was going deaf.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 17:52

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