About vs Around – What’s the difference?

The words “about” and “around“ are very commonly used in speech and writing in the English language. These words are the basic words that one continuously engages with and are not very complex. But sometimes, people tend to use them interchangeably and overlook their differences.

It is safe to say that “about” and “around” have quite similar meanings. It is even said that “about” is a preference of British English and “around” is American English. But sometimes, both the words can mean differently in different contexts. So, it is necessary to study distinctively their specific meanings and usage.

List of Homophones | Homophones Exa...
List of Homophones | Homophones Examples

Let us discuss them in detail and understand them better with examples.

About vs Around – Difference

Both the words “about” and “around” can be used as prepositions, adverbs, and adjectives. While most people use them as synonyms, there can be some differences in their definitions and usage.

Use of About

About” when used as a preposition, can generally mean or indicate in a circle around. It can be defined as on the outside of something or on every side of. In fact, “about” as a preposition has several other definitions such as; concerned with, on the verge of, concerning the time, quantity or size, and approximately.

Let us look at some examples;

  • Bind the rope about the neck.
  • She is almost about my height.
  • The tv show is about to start soon.
  • The president knows more about politics.

About” when used as an adverb, can mean on all sides. It can also mean half round, one after another, nearly, in succession, or in circumference.

For example;

  • The classroom is about as cold.
  • Stop rushing about.

About” when used as an adjective, we indicate to move around. It generally means to be fully awake or out of bed. It can also be defined as in existence.

For example;

  • She took two weeks to be up and about again.

Use of Around

On the other hand, when we use “around” as a preposition, it indicates in a circle or curve surrounding something or someone. It can also be defined in several other ways such as; in many places, near to, on, or from the other side, or following a path.

Let us look at some examples;

  • She ran around the lakehouse.
  • I put my shawl around the table.
  • Her school is just around the corner.

About” when used as an adverb, can also be defined in several ways such as; on every side, from place to place, generally, to face or turn in the opposite direction, to many places, or approximately.

For example;

  • The sweets were scattered around the hall.
  • He walked around many times.

About” can also be used as an adjective. When used as an adjective, it indicates the verb “to be“. That is, it means to exist or to live. It can also be defined as to be present, active, or alive.

For example;

  • She is one of the most sincere students around.

So we see, although very close to being the same regarding meaning, they still have some differences that one should keep in mind. While both of them can be the same forms, their usage needs proper attention.

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