Commonly Confused Words: Scared vs. Scarred

I met my husband in October, so you can imagine many of the dates we went on during those early days included spooky activities. I was scared on so many occasions I became scarred, and now I just don’t go to haunted houses or spook alleys anymore. If you’re wondering how I could have become scarred by being scared, you may not understand scared vs. scarred. They have two very different meanings. Let’s explore them together!

Scared vs. Scarred at a Glance

  • Scared is an adjective and synonym for fearful or frightened. It also acts as the past tense form of scare, becoming a verb.
  • Scarred is also an adjective meaning to be physically or emotionally left with a scar. It acts as a verb when used as the past tense form of scar.
a child scared of Santa

When To Use Scared

Now that you can see the differences between scared and scarred, let’s figure out when to use them.

As an adjective, you’ll use scared when explaining how you feel after being spooked by something. As a verb, you’ll use scared when explaining the action that happened.

Scared as an Adjective Examples:

  • Cami is scared of spiders because she once woke up with one on her forehead.
  • I am scared of heights, bugs, and the dark.
  • Our chickens are scared of the neighbor’s dog and will loudly cluck if he comes around.

Scared as a Verb Examples:

  • Matt scared everyone when he jumped out in a Big Foot costume during dinner.
  • The goblin at the haunted house scared me when he reached for my arm.
  • The neighbor’s dog scared my chickens, which made them stop laying eggs.
A leg with a red cast

When To Use Scarred

Being scarred is often associated with being scared, but that doesn’t make the two words interchangeable. Use the adjective scarred when you’re explaining how you were affected by receiving a scar, either figuratively or literally. Use the verb form of scarred when speaking about the act of receiving the scar.

Scarred as an Adjective Examples:

  • Figuratively: Walking in on her brother in the bathroom, Sarah was scarred for life.
  • Figuratively: I was scarred after seeing my best friend kissing her boyfriend.
  • Literally: Jenny was left bruised and scarred after being attacked by Mari’s dog.
  • Literally: My mother’s leg was scarred in multiple places after she fell down the stairs.

Scarred as a Verb Examples:

  • Layton’s surgery scarred his abdomen, but it saved his life.
  • The glass cut scarred my son’s finger.
  • The saw scarred Dad’s leg when he slipped while cutting the tree branch.

Are you Scared by Grammar?

When it comes to the debate between scared vs. scarred, you can use the terms in the same sentence but not interchangeably. So whether this blog scared you or scarred you, take note and you’ll get it right!

Have you ever been so scared that you were scarred? Have you ever mixed up the two words for a funny outcome? Let us know in the comments!


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