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Explanation: According to the OED, 'scared' is very common in informal speech and is often used to describe small fears, while 'afraid' is more formal and less common; BUT this is true only when they are used to mean the feeling of fear.
As we all know, 'afraid' has broader meaning/usage, more than just feeling fear. 'Afraid' is also used to mean 'worried' and in this case, 'afraid' is more commonly used than 'scared'.
The idiom 'I'm afraid (that)' means 'I'm sorry to tell you (that)' and is used to introduce apologetic refusals and bad news (I'm afraid that I can't help you). In this case, scared is hardly used.
Another important point is that 'afraid' is one of the adjectives that are not usually used before a noun in attributive position
John is afraid (but never John is an afraid man).
On the contrary, 'scared' can be used in attributive position eg. a scared child'
Explanation: I would say that they are stylistically different. "Afraid" is neutral while "scared" is colloquial and emotionally colored. According to Hornby, neither is described as specifically US or UK.
Michael Tovbin United States Local time: 15:19 Native speaker of: English, Russian PRO pts in pair: 108