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Expressing concern with "kongpa"

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恐怕 (kǒngpà) can be used to express "I'm afraid that," or "I'm concerned that," or even "I'm worried that," followed by some sort of reason. It doesn't need to be something you're literally afraid of; it may be that you're just trying to soften the blow of some bad news, as in, "I'm afraid that I'm too busy washing my hair tomorrow night to come over and see the 2000 pictures of your trip to ComicCon."

Structure

恐怕 comes at the beginning of the sentence. The meaning is similar to "perhaps" or "probably." It's often used with auxiliary verbs, such as 要, 会, 能, 得, etc.

(Reason,) 恐怕 ⋯⋯

Examples

  • 今天 恐怕 下雨 。I'm afraid it's going to rain today.
  • 这 是 很重要 的 决定 ,你 恐怕 这么 着急 。I'm afraid you can't rush this decision as it is a big one to make.
  • 老婆 ,我 晚上 要 加班 ,恐怕 回家 吃 晚饭 了 。Wife, I'm going to work late tonight. I'm afraid I can't go home to eat dinner.
  • 这个 颜色 太 粉 了 ,恐怕 我女儿 不 喜欢 。This pink is too much. I'm afraid my daughter isn't going to like it.
  • 这件事 恐怕 你 帮忙 。I'm afraid you have to help me with this.
  • 你 现在 知道 被 骗 了 ?恐怕 骗子 早就 跑了 。You finally realized the fact that you were ripped off? I'm afraid that guy was long gong.
  • 这样做 恐怕 不太 合适 。I'm afraid it wasn't appropriate to do it this way.

"恐怕"也经常和"吧"连用,表示一种委婉、商量、劝告的语气,而说话人有自己的想法。

  • 恐怕 没 那么 容易 I'm afraid it's not that easy.
  • 一个人 去 那个 地方 恐怕 不太 安全 I'm afraid it's not safe to go there alone.
  • 你 这样 说 ,恐怕 她 会 不 高兴 I'm afraid she will be upset about the way you talk.

我 with 恐怕

A common mistake many people make when learning 恐怕 is putting a pronoun, such as 我, before 恐怕. It's a reasonable assumption, as 恐怕 translates to, "I'm afraid" but the pronoun is more or less implied and grammatically incorrect when preceded by 我:

  • 恐怕 帮不了 你 。Never put 我 before 恐怕!
  • 恐怕 帮不了 你 。I'm afraid I can't help you.

See also

Sources and further reading

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