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Quick answer
"Dar miedo" is a transitive verb phrase which is often translated as "to scare", and "asustarse" is a pronominal verb which is often translated as "to get frightened". Learn more about the difference between "dar miedo" and "asustarse" below.
dar miedo(
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
1. (to cause fear to)
a. to scare
Esa montaña rusa me da miedo. No quiero subirme.That rollercoaster scares me. I don't want to ride it.
b. to frighten
El sonido de la artillería enemiga no le dio miedo a los soldados.The sound of the enemy artillery didn't frighten the soldiers.
c. to give the chills
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
Esa casa abandonada me da miedo.That abandoned house gives me the chills.
An intransitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and does not require a direct object (e.g. Everybody please stand up.).
intransitive verb phrase
2. (to cause fear)
a. to be scary
Ese thriller da miedo.That thriller is scary.
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A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
1. (to experience fear)
a. to get frightened
Nos asustamos muchísimo con la explosión de la bomba.We got terribly frightened when the bomb went off.
b. to be frightened
¡No te asustes! Son solo truenos.Don't be frightened! It's just thunder.
2. (to experience concern)
a. to get worried
Me asusté cuando me di cuenta de que era tarde y María todavía no había llegado.I got worried when I realized that it was late, and María had not arrived yet.
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
3. (to cause fear)
a. to frighten
El perro asustó a los niños.The dog frightened the children.
b. to scare
Enciende una vela para asustar a los demonios.Light a candle to scare the demons.
4. (to alarm)
a. to startle
Un grito espeluznante la asustó mientras dormía.A bloodcurdling scream startled her awake.
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