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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?

1 Answer 1

18

To give a few working examples:

私は猫が怖い
I'm scared of cats.

恵美子ちゃんは猫は平気みたいだけど、私は怖いらしい。
Emiko seems to be fine around cats, but apparently is scared of me.

僕は怖いよ。
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".

3
  • Are there any special connotations to 怖い vs. 恐い in your opinion? Apr 15, 2013 at 9:12
  • 2
    @小太郎 I'm scared => 怖い. I'm scary => 私が怖い.
    – oldergod
    Apr 15, 2013 at 9:28
  • 1
    @JensJensen That might work as a separate question.
    – user1478
    Apr 15, 2013 at 10:09

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