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English Conversation – Fears

Sunday, May 6, 2012 @ 05:05 PM
posted by Jo


This is the preparation material for an English conversation lesson about fear and being afraid. There are many different words we can use to describe the feeling of being afraid. In this lesson, you can learn nine of the most common adjectives that describe this feeling. You can also discover some of the phrasal verbs and idioms that we use to talk about fear. Finally, learn how to respond to some of the most frequently asked conversation questions on this topic.

Audio discussion about fears

Download audio discussion about fear

Download Transcript of Audio Discussion

* Audio courtesy of elllo.org

Adjectives to describe being afraid

  • Alarmed
  • Anxious
  • Apprehensive
  • Fearful
  • Frightened
  • Petrified
  • Scared
  • Uneasy
  • Worried


Phrasal Verbs


  • Freaked out – to become very scared or disturbed. “Agatha freaked out when a spider dropped on her head.”
  • Scare away/off - When you scare somebody or something away (or off), you make them leave using fear
  • Fear for (someone/something) – to feel worried about someone or something because you think something bad may happen to them or has happened to them. “Hundreds of civilians fear for their lives.” “I fear greatly for their safety.”

Idioms about Fear

  • To jump out of your skin - If you jump out of your skin, you are extremely surprised, scared or shocked.   "Jane nearly jumped out of her skin when the horse put its head   through the window!"
  • Scared stiff - Someone who is scared stiff is so frightened that they are unable to move.   "My mother is scared stiff of heights.
  • Nerves of steel - Someone who has nerves of steel is not afraid in a difficult or dangerous situation.   "You need to have nerves of steel to drive on those mountain roads."
  • Bundle of nerves – if you describe someone as a bundle of nerves, you mean that they are very nervous, tense or worried. “My son is doing his driving test today. Needless to say he’s a bundle of nerves.”
  • To have butterflies in your stomach – If you have butterflies in your stomach, you are feeling very nervous.   "At the beginning of an exam, I always have butterflies in my stomach."
  • To fear the worst – to feel worried that something very bad will happen or has already happened. “John hasn’t been home since yesterday and I fear the worst”

Conversation Questions


  • What is your biggest fear for yourself?
  • What is your biggest fear for the world?
  • Why do we feel fear?
  • What is the best way to get over a fear?
  • Do you have any phobias?
  • What things are people commonly afraid of and why?
  • Why do people watch movies that make them feel afraid?
  • Do you enjoy watching scary movies?
  • Do you fear certain insects or animals? Why?
  • Do you know anyone with a phobia?
  • Do you like horror movies?
  • Do you think young children should be allowed to watch horror movies?
  • How do you react when you see something frightening?
  • Were you afraid of the dark as a child?
  • Do you think people have become more afraid since the terrorist attack of September 11?
  • Why do you think we have nightmares?
  • Have you ever seen any reality TV shows where people face their fears for money? Would you ever face one of your fears for money?
  • What are some things which many people are afraid of? Why are they afraid of them?
  • What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?
  • What kinds of things make you nervous?
  • Do you ever have nightmares (bad dreams)?
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • Have you overcome any of your fears?
  • Do you believe people can be cured of phobias by hypnosis?
  • Are you afraid to fly?
  • How do you cope with your fears?
  • Are you afraid of being ill? What disease are you most afraid of? Why?
  • What is your biggest fear for yourself?
  • What is your biggest fear for the world?
  • How would you help someone to get over their fear?
  • Do you have any form of phobia or paranoia?
  • What were you afraid of as a child?
  • What physical symptoms accompany fear?
  • If you 'put the fear of God into someone,' how do you think that person feels?
  • Are you afraid you might get sick?
  • Are you afraid of speaking English?
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