The preposition about has several uses.
To indicate movement or position
About indicates movement or position in various directions and places.
- We walked about the old city.
- The princes went riding about the country.
- Children were running about everywhere.
- Men were standing about the street corners.
To mean 'near to'
About can mean 'near to.'
- They are living somewhere about here.
To mean approximately
About can mean a little more or less, a little before or after and similar ideas.
- She is about 10 year old.
- It is about 5 o clock.
How about, what about
How about and what about are used to seek an opinion and/or propose a plan.
- How about having a drink? (Propose a plan.)
- He is a handsome fellow, but what about his character? (Seeks an opinion.)
About and On
About and on can both mean in connection with. However, there is a slight difference between them.
- This is a book on African history.
- This is a book for children about the festivals of India.
On used in the first sentence suggests that the book is serious or academic. It fits specialists. About used in the second sentence suggests that the book only gives some information.
- This is a movie on the life of Gautam Buddha. (A serious work on his life)
- This is a movie about Gautam Buddha. (Only gives some information about him)
About to means on the point of doing something.
- We were about to go to bed when the telephone rang.
- The show was about to start when the lights went out.
Not about to can mean unwilling to.
- I am not about to lend him my car.
Search the Dictionary of Practical English Usage
As, since, because and for
A lot of, lots of, plenty of, a great deal of
Below and under
Above and over
Both and both of
As if and as though
Fairly, quite, pretty and rather
Finally, at last, in the end and at the end
No and none
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