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Expressing Fear and Anxiety in German: A Guide with Examples and Grammar Insights

Updated: Apr 29

Fear and anxiety are universal human emotions, and expressing them accurately in a foreign language can be crucial for effective communication. In this blog post, I'll explore how to express fear and anxiety in German, providing examples and insights into the underlying grammar to help learners convey their emotions effectively.



How to express fear and anxiety in German


  1. Using Verbs: Verbs play a central role in expressing fear and anxiety in German. Here are some commonly used verbs:

  • Fürchten (to fear): Ich fürchte, ich werde zu spät kommen. (I fear I will be late.)

  • Sich sorgen (to worry): Ich mache mir Sorgen um meine Zukunft. (I worry about my future.)

  • Zittern (to tremble): Sie zitterte vor Angst. (She trembled with fear.)

  • Angst haben (to be anxious): Er hatte Angst, die Tür zu öffnen. (He was anxious to open the door.)


2. Adjectives and Adverbs: Adjectives and adverbs help to add depth and intensity to expressions of fear and anxiety:

  • Ängstlich (anxious): Sie war ängstlich vor dem Vorstellungsgespräch. (She was anxious about the job interview.)

  • Beängstigend (frightening): Die Dunkelheit war beängstigend. (The darkness was frightening.)

  • Besorgt (worried): Er war besorgt um seine Familie. (He was worried about his family.)

  • Panisch (panicked): Die Menschen wurden panisch, als das Feuer ausbrach. (People panicked when the fire broke out.)


3. Modal Verbs: Modal verbs can express possibility, necessity, or permission, and they are often used to convey fear or anxiety in German:

  • Können (can): Ich kann das Risiko nicht eingehen. (I can't take the risk.)

  • Müssen (must): Wir müssen uns vorbereiten, um die Prüfung zu bestehen. (We must prepare to pass the exam.)

  • Sollen (should): Du solltest dich nicht alleine im Wald verirren. (You shouldn't get lost in the forest alone.)

  • Wollen (want): Ich will nicht in der Dunkelheit bleiben. (I don't want to stay in the dark.)


4. Subjunctive Mood: The subjunctive mood is often used to express hypothetical situations or wishes related to fear and anxiety by using conditional clauses in German.

  • Wenn ich nur keine Angst hätte! (If only I didn't have any fear!)

  • Es wäre besser, wenn er nicht so ängstlich wäre. (It would be better if he weren't so anxious.)


Conclusion: Mastering the vocabulary and grammar structures for expressing fear and anxiety in German is essential for effective communication and emotional expression. By familiarising themselves with verbs, adjectives, adverbs, modal verbs, and the subjunctive mood, learners can convey their emotions accurately and navigate conversations with confidence.


On our blog, you'll also find related posts, such as how to express emotions with vor and aus in German, how to articulate pain using wehtun etc.



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