Are you at a loss, meaning you don’t know what to say or how to react, when it comes to using words like…
Confused or Confusing?, Excited or Exciting?, Scared, Frightened, Terrified, or Scary, Frightening, Terrifying?
The word pairs above should not be scary to English language learners. Take heart!* I will show you something that will make it easy for you to differentiate between the emotions you are feeling and what or who is causing those emotions.
Look carefully at the adjectives below. HINT: Look at the word endings:
alarmed, annoyed, ashamed, bored, confused, delighted, disappointed, disgusted, disoriented, exasperated, excited, frightened, frustrated, horrified, humiliated, insulted, interested, intrigued, offended, outraged, overwhelmed, relaxed, scared shocked, stunned, terrified, tired, and worried .
Do you see? All those words expressing emotions that are being felt end in “ed.” Try completing the sentences below with several of those words:
I am/was____, I feel/felt____, or I am/was feeling____*
*Note: Other proper nouns and pronouns can be substituted for “I” in the sentences above. For example:
It/he/she/The US government/Mrs. DeCouto was (feeling)____, They/The Russians were____.
Now, let’s look at the next group of adjectives. HINT: Look at the word endings:
alarming, annoying, boring, confusing, delightful, disappointing, disgusting, disorienting, exciting, frightening, frustrating, horrifying, humiliating, insulting, interesting, intriguing, offensive, outrageous (= maddening), overwhelming, relaxing, scary, shocking, shameful, stunning, terrifying, tiring/tiresome, and worrisome
There is some variety in the word endings above, but for the most part, these words end with “ing.” Use the second set of words when the subject is causing the emotion.
It/he/she/Mr. Wilson is___, They/Hispanics are___, and…this one is tricky: I am ___ (when I am causing others to have an emotion)
‘ing demonstrates action
Think of it this way, adding ‘ing to a verb shows action. For example: As I am writing this blog, I am thinking, typing, and occasionally looking things up.* So when I am actively impacting the emotion of others I am _____+ing.
Look at the word pairs again:
Confused / Confusing, Excited / Exciting, Scared/ Scary, Frightened/ Frightening, Terrified/ Terrifying.
When I am exciting, then others are excited by me. Perhaps they are reading this blog and are excited. My readers might exclaim, “I’m not scared of using scary or other adjectives of emotion anymore! My Virtual English is brilliant!” In this example I caused the excitement, so that makes me exciting and my readers were excited. Whoop! Whoop!*
Let’s look at some commonly confused words: scary/scared, frightening/frightened, and terrifying/terrified. Remember the “ed” ending means the emotion that we feel. I am scared when I have to do something scary like driving in an unfamiliar place in heavy traffic. When something scary or frightening (things causing those emotions) surprises me then I might say, ” I was frightened.” Being terrified is being so scared that normal thinking and responses are affected. Someone who is terrified thinks and behaves irrationally, fear is controlling them. (See the My Take on It section below for more about this.)
I am loved. I am loving. In this pair the emotion I am feeling and expressing can be represented by the “ing” word, loving.
Let’s look at some examples.
She is very loving. This means that this female (it could be a person or an animal) expresses affection; she will cause you to feel loved. This use follows the pattern that we have been looking at.
I am loving this! This expression means that you are enjoying yourself, you love what you are experiencing.
To be loved means that another loves me.
When I say, “I am loved,” it means I am feeling the love being expressed by someone else (they are loving).
Several years ago, I went on a Department Head retreat. All of the company’s leadership participated. We were taken to a remote (but beautiful) place in the mountains where we were asked to find a quiet place alone where we could consider the question, “What is most important?”
I pondered the question, What matters most to people?, and came to the conclusion that “to love and be loved” is what is most important. The Bible tells us that we have been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The Bible is a story about relationships. God gives and wants to receive love, true love, not a love out of obligation, but a love that comes from being loved.
“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Knowing that God Himself loves me, no matter what, is exciting and reassuring.
Now, about being terrified…knowing that the most powerful force in the universe loves you and has got your back* should put fear to rest.* Just prior to the verse quoted above, John writes,
There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear….1 John 4:18
So, this Halloween don’t be frightened… don’t be concerned. Remember we have a loving God who is waiting for you to love Him in return. And that’s not scary at all!