Scientific English as a Foreign Language
Answers to Lesson of June 20, 1997
Around, About, Approximately
Please don't overuse "about" or "around" in your papers to mean "approximately". "About" and "around" have many other meanings than "approximately", a few of which I have listed below. Use them as variety and as alternatives to "approximately", but remember that "approximately" is really what you usually want to express.
1. of; concerning; in regard to: instructions about the work; a book about the Civil War.
2. connected or associated with: There was an air of mystery about him.
3. near; close to: a man about my height; about six o'clock.
4. in or somewhere near: He is about the house.
5. on every side of; around: the railing about the excavation.
6. on or near (one's person) : They lost all they had about them.
7. so as to be of use to: Keep your wits about y.
8. on the verge or point of (usually fol. by an infinitive) : about to leave.
9. here or there; in or on: to wander about the old castle.
10. concerned with; engaged in doing: Tell me what it's about. Bring me the other book while you're about it.
1. in a circle, ring, or the like; so as to surround a person, group,
thing, etc.: The crowd gathered around.
2. on all sides; about: His land is fenced all around.
3. in all directions from a center or point of reference: He owns the land for miles around.
4. in a region or area neighboring a place: all the country around.
5. in circumference: The tree was 40 inches around.
6. in a circular or rounded course: to fly around and around.
7. through a sequence or series, as of places or persons: to show someone around.
1. near or approaching a certain state, condition, goal, or standard.
2. nearly exact; not perfectly accurate or correct: The approximate time was 10 o'clock.
3. near; close together.
4. very similar; nearly identical. —
5. to come near to; approach closely to: to approximate an ideal.
6. to estimate: We approximated the distance at three miles.
7. to simulate; imitate closely: The motions of the stars can be approximated in a planetarium.
8. to bring near.
Try putting the three words in the sentences below.
1. The moat is around, about (2 possibilities) the castle.
2. I'm about done with the experiment.
3. The value of the modulus is approximately 100 MPa.
4. The tools are scattered around, about (2 possibilities) the lab.
5. The book is about dislocation theory.
6. The precision of the measurement is approximately +-0.001 Hz.
7. Please show our visitor about Europe.
7b. Please show our visitor around the labs.
(These last to distinguish the difference between "about" and "around".)
8. It's approximately 50cm in circumference.
9. It's 50 cm around.
The first law of Newton I sing
My voice has a relevant ring:
"An object left free
Of hassles will be
Engrossed in just doing its thing."
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Created May 12, 1998, by Nancy Burnham and Fred Hutson.