Demystifying “Craindre”: Mastering the French Verb for “to Fear”

Let us immerse ourselves in the realm of the French language, drifting away from the serene and tranquil nouns, into the more nuanced and sentiment-evoking shades of verbs. Today, we dive deep into one such verb with a powerful meaning – “Craindre,” which translates into English as “to fear.” “Craindre” is a tangible way to express fear, apprehension, or dread in French. This blog post will hold your hand through your journey of understanding and effectively using this verb.

  1. Expressing Fear and Anxiety:
    “Craindre” is, of course, used to express literal fear or anxiety about something. Notice how “craindre” gets used below:
    • Je crains les araignées. (I fear spiders.)
    • Il craint de perdre son emploi. (He fears losing his job.)
    • Nous craignons que notre avion ne soit pas à l’heure. (We fear that our plane won’t be on time.)
  2. Expressing Worry and Doubt:
    Often, “craindre” is not so much about physical fear but conveys worry or doubt about a situation or potential future event. Here are such instances:
    • Je crains qu’elle ne vienne pas à la fête. (I worry that she won’t come to the party.)
    • Ils craignent que la pluie ne gâche la sortie. (They fear the rain might ruin the outing.)
    • Tu crains qu’ils ne réussissent pas l’examen. (You worry that they won’t pass the exam.)
  3. Informal Expressions with “Craindre”:
    Interestingly, “craindre” can also be used in French slang as “craindre dégun.” This phrase originates from Southern France’s unique vocabulary called “verlan”, where syllables are reversed. “Dégueun” (horrible) became “dégun,” and so the phrase “craindre dégun” means not to be afraid of anything at all. For example:
    • Il est courageux, il ne craint dégun! (He is brave. He is not scared of anything!)
      N.B: There is also a phrase “sans crainte” (without fear), often used as an adjective to describe someone fearless.

Queue the proverbial curtain drop as we end our deep dive into the layers of the French verb “craindre”. The beautiful take away from “craindre” is that expressing fear is a deeply human action, and through this verb, you are provided an avenue to articulate your fears in French. By using “craindre,” you can share your worries, anxieties, and even common fears with other French speakers. We hope you no longer ‘crains’ using “craindre” in your journey through the endlessly fascinating universe of the French language. Au revoir et n’ayez pas peur! (Goodbye and do not fear!)