• 2-minute read
  • 1st December 2015

All About the Word “About”!

One of the most common problems our customers have is how to use the word “about” correctly. This is particularly tricky because “about” is a common word and can be used in several contexts. We’ll run through a few of these uses here.

About: On the Subject Of

As a preposition, the word “about” can be used to link nouns and verbs, such as when using “about” to mean “concerning” or “on the subject of”:

We spoke about her neighbor’s awful choice of house paint.

However, a common mistake here is using “about” with “discussed.” This is incorrect: even though we ‘speak about’ something, the term “discuss” doesn’t require a preposition. As such, if we were to use “discussed” in the sentence above, it would simply be:

We discussed her neighbor’s awful choice of house paint.

About: Around on On One’s Person

We can also use it to mean “distributed around an area”:

In my town, there are several horribly painted houses about.

Or “on one’s person”:

She concealed the blue paint about her as she crept up on the house.

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About: Approximately or Nearly

It can also be used to mean “approximately,” as in:

They say she’ll get about 10 months in jail for criminal damage.

Furthermore, it can mean “nearly”:

In her mugshot, she was about the same height as Jackson Pollock.

About: Movement

We can even use the word “about” to refer to movement:

As the cops drove up, she was still flinging blue paint about wildly.

These are just some of the ways in which ‘about’ can be used, so don’t forget to check a dictionary if you’re unsure whether you should be using this term in any particular example.

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