Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Or does it mean both? If so, is there any way to explicitly distinguish between "I'm scared" and "I'm scary"?
If it only means one and not the other, how would you say the other?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

To give a few working examples:

I'm scared of cats.

Emiko seems to be fine around cats, but apparently is scared of me.

I'm scary, just so you know.

That makes 私は怖い officially ambiguous and the answer to your question must be "both, depending on the context".

share|improve this answer
What would be the correct way of saying "I'm scared" or "I'm scary"? –  小太郎 Apr 15 '13 at 8:26
Uh-oh, good question. I'll have to revise my answer. I think "I'm scared" can be 私は怖い and "I'm scary" can be 私は怖い as well... –  Earthliŋ Apr 15 '13 at 8:31
Are there any special connotations to 怖い vs. 恐い in your opinion? –  Jens Jensen Apr 15 '13 at 9:12
@小太郎 I'm scared => 怖い. I'm scary => 私が怖い. –  oldergod Apr 15 '13 at 9:28
@JensJensen That might work as a separate question. –  snailboat Apr 15 '13 at 10:09

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.