About

'About' is a preposition but it can also be used as an adverb. In this lesson, we will discover al about this preposition.

How to Use "About" in the English Grammar

About can be a preposition, an adverb, or an adjective and is used in many expressions. In this lesson, we have covered all of its uses.

1. 'About' as the Preposition

  1. 'About' shows the subject.
  2. 'About' shows the reason.
  3. 'About' shows the place.
  4. 'About' shows the quality.
  5. 'About' shows the process.

Use

1.1 'About' Shows the Subject

About as a preposition is used to talk about the subject of something.

  • About has a similar meaning to 'concerned with, concerning.' For example:

What's the book about?

I want to talk about this film.

I would appreciate it if you do something about it.

  • About is used to show the subject of something that is the function or the purpose. Like:

Management is about solving problems that seem very difficult.

In this case, after 'about' we use gerund.

It is all about talking softly.

1.2 'About' Shows the Reason

About is used after some adjectives like 'sad, excited, nervous, serious, worried, etc.' to introduce an adjective complement, such as:

I am angry about what happened.

I feel sorry about it.

1.3 'About' Shows the Place

About is used instead of 'around' in British English. Look:

I want to walk about this area to see if there is anything fun to play with.

I am looking about the room.

1.4 'About' Shows the Quality

In British English, about is used to talk about a specific quality of someone or something. For example:

There was a particular motivation about him.

The structure is 'there is/are/was/were... + n + about.'

There is something particular about your performance.

1.5 'About' Shows the Process

About means in the process of doing something, like:

When you are about it, buy two pounds of spinach.

'When you are in the middle of it'

Position in a Sentence

About as a preposition is placed before a noun or a pronoun. For example:

I want to walk about this area.

I would appreciate it if you do something about it.

Friendship is about listening to each other.

'Listening' is the gerund form of the verb 'listen' and it is a noun.

2. 'About' as an Adverb

  1. 'About' indicates approximation.
  2. 'About' indicates a place.

Use

2.1 'About' Shows 'Approximation'

About is used to show approximation before numbers or quantity. As a result, about modifies the determiner that cannot be removed. It can also stand before verbs to add more information to it.

  • About before numbers means 'approximately.' In this case, 'about' is an adverb because it modifies the following determiner. For example:

I talked to about 20 people.

'20' cannot be left out because the adverb 'about' modifies it.

About 10 percent of people came down with Covid 19.

'About 10 percent of people' is the subject of the sentence.

  • About has a similar meaning to 'almost' when it comes before main verbs. Look:

I am about done.

2.2 'About' Indicates a Place

About in British English shows the place of something. It either comes after the verb be or after main verbs. Look:

  • About has a similar meaning to 'nearby', mainly used after the to be as a main verb. For example:

There is flu about. We should wear masks.

Is Jack about?

  • About is used with some verbs and means 'around' in British English. Like:

I am walking about.

I am looking about.

Position in a Sentence

About modifies either a determiner or a verb. Take a look:

I talked to about 20 people.

'About' modifies an the determiner '20'.

I am about done.

'About' modifies the verb 'be.'

3. 'About' as an Adjective

Use

About is a subject complement and is used as an adjective after the auxiliary verb 'be.' For example:

I am about to go.

She was about to vomit.

Position in a Sentence

About as an adjective is used after the auxiliary verb 'be' to create a near-future tense. We use an infinitive after the adjective about.

I am about to go.

An infinitive after 'about'

She was about to die.

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