Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Today, I'm going to talk about the difference between "about," "around" and "approximately." There are a few things to talk about and a few key differences between these fairly similar words. So, let's get started.
Okay, the first word I want to talk about is the word, "about." "About" is a word that means reasonably close to. Actually, this is the single point that each of these words has in common. Each word today means reasonably close to but we'll talk about the details later. So, "about" means reasonably close to and we use it in casual situations. I want to talk about a few times when we use the word, "about." Some of these mean reasonably close to but I'll also explain some other grammatical functions of this word. So, when we want to express something that is reasonably close to, something else with the word, "about," we can use this word to talk about numbers, to talk about quantity, how much or how many of something. So, for example, "I ate about 10 cookies." So, here, "about" means reasonably close to, it's a guess or an estimate. We can use it to talk about quantity.
Next, we can use it for a space. But, this is one that's used more commonly in British English. In American English, we don't typically use "about" to refer to a space. By this, I mean, for example, the sentence, "They walked about the neighborhood." As I'll show you later, American English speakers, we typically use the word, "around" instead of "about." But, "to walk about" means reasonably close to the neighborhood or within the neighborhood. So, "to walk about something," "to stroll about something," refers to nearby another place, or, again, reasonably close to a place around a location. So, we can use this to talk about spaces, as well. We can use about to talk about time, as well. So, a time of day, in the morning, in the afternoon, also, a specific o'clock time, like 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock. For example, "I want to arrive at about 3 o'clock." Or, we could say like, "Can you have it done by about tomorrow morning?" So, these are estimates, time estimates that we can use the word, "about" with.
Finally, a different function, this does not mean reasonably close to but actually, this means reasonably close to an action, starting or an action finishing. So, it's slightly different. We're not really making an estimate here. We're talking about an upcoming or a recently completed change in an action or in a status. So, for example, "They're about to fall." This is a sentence that's making a guess, something that is going to happen reasonably close in the future. They're about to do something. So, in these situations, we use the word, "about" before a verb, something that's going to happen very soon, reasonably close in the future. If it's helpful to think of it in that way. One more example sentence, "We are just about to sign the paperwork." So, something is going to happen soon. In this case, signing paperwork is the action that is going to happen. We are reasonably close in time to that action happening. So, we can use "about" in these cases.
Let's move on to the next word for today, though. The next word is "around." So, as I said, "around" also means reasonably close to as we'll see in a few examples in just a moment. We also use "around" in casual situations. So, these are informal situations. Although, it's okay to use this in more formal situations. It's not necessarily impolite here. We can use "around' with numbers as we did with "about." We can use this to talk about quantity. So, for example, "Around 15 people are coming." Again, this is an estimate, I guess, "around 15 people." Using "about" here creates the same meaning. "About 15 people are coming." "Around 15 people are coming." In this case, "around" and "about" are used in exactly the same way and have exactly the same meaning. They're both making an estimate or a guess here.
Here, however, when we use "around" to talk about a space, we use "around" more in American English to refer to a location near another space. For example, "They walked around the neighborhood." I gave the example in British English of, "They walked about the neighborhood," which might be more common. In American English, we use, "They walked around the neighborhood." So, "around the neighborhood" can mean actually going outside the neighborhood, as I'll show you in just another example sentence, or it can mean just within the neighborhood, in a place nearby the speaker's home, for example. When we use "around" in American English, it typically means, at least for a space, it means near a location. You might hear the word "about" used in British English though.
Let's go to the next situation. We use this for time as we saw with the word, "about." So, for time, we can say, "I'll be there around 7:00 p.m." "I'll be there around breakfast," for example. So, a time of day, a point in the day or a specific o'clock, a specific a.m. or p.m. time, we can use "around" before that, just as we used "about." So, again, "around" and "about" have the same function in these sentences. "I'll be there about 7:00 p.m." "I'll be there around 7:00 p.m." Both have the same meaning.
Okay, lastly, circumferences and circuits. So, a circumference is the distance around something and a circuit is like making a circle around something else. So, when you want to talk about a circumference or a circuit, like making a circle, making a loop around something, you can use the word, "around." So, for example, "Your head is 56 centimeters around." We use "around" to refer to a size, a circumference in this case. Or, another example, "We bicycled around the lake," meaning around the outside of the lake. "We bicycled in a loop around that." We use "around" in this way to talk about the outside of something or the distance around something, in a loop.
Okay, finally, the last word for today is "approximately." Just as we talked about with "about" and "around," "approximately" means reasonably close to something else so we use it, again, to make an estimate, to make a guess. However, "approximately" is usually used in more formal situations. You might see this in academic writing, for example, or perhaps in a speech or in a presentation. It's more natural to use "approximately" in formal situations. If you use "approximately" in an informal situation, it might sound a little strange, a little too polite so please be cautious. We use "approximately" for numbers, for quantity, estimates again. For example, "Approximately, 50 people attended the event," approximately. So, just as we've placed the word before the number here, in this case, "50," we can substitute "around" or "about" in this sentence to make it a little bit less formal, but using "approximately" makes it sound a bit more formal. So, "approximately," "around" and "about" can all be used here but the level of formality is the only thing that changes.
Alright. We can also use "approximately" for time to make a time estimate sound a little bit more formal. For example, "We'll be working in LA for approximately three years." So, again, we could use "around" or "about" here but approximately sounds a little bit more formal and so, this may be is a sentence we could use in a business presentation or when explaining a plan, something like that, in a more formal situation.
So, please keep in mind, "approximately" has fairly limited uses. "Around" and "about," however, have a few other functions to consider. But, when you're making guesses, when you're making estimates, especially for quantities, especially for time, in most cases, "about" and "around" can both be used. "Approximately" is fine as well but you will sound more formal.
Okay. Those are a few differences between the words "about," "around" and "approximately." If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments. If you like the video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel too. Check us out at EnglishClass101.com for more good stuff as well. Thanks very much for watching this episode and I will see you again soon. Bye.


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๐Ÿ˜„ ๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜’ ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ˜  ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜… ๐Ÿ˜œ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ญ ๐Ÿ˜‡ ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ โค๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‘

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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Friday at 05:54 PM
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Hello Nok,

Thanks for taking the time to post your question. ๐Ÿ‘

If you did choose to use "will" or "going to" it would be grammatically correct but have slightly different meanings to "They're about to fall."

I hope you're enjoying your studies with us.



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Tuesday at 10:41 AM
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I have a question, instead of using 'about' can we use 'will' or 'going to' like in this sentence below:

โ€œThey're about to fall.โ€ to They're going to fall or They will ...

"They're about to do something" to They're going to do something or They will do something.

โ€œWe are just about to sign the paperwork.โ€ We're going to sign the paperwork or We will sign the paperwork


Sunday at 09:20 PM
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Hi Mimi,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the lesson!

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Friday at 11:10 AM
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It's really helpful for me.

I've just made sense!

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Saturday at 09:03 PM
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Hi Zeinab,

Thank you for your positive feedback!

Let us know if you have any questions.


At the moment we only offer the course in English. Thank you for your kind understanding.

In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us. Weโ€™ll be glad to help!



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Thursday at 04:35 AM
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Very good lesson โค๏ธโค๏ธ

Wednesday at 05:09 AM
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Perhaps this is a good lesson, but without transcription and translation into Russian, how do I understand the speech of the characters from the video lesson?

I hoped that this course would be useful to me.

I'm sad ๐Ÿ˜ญ