Translating ‘About’ to Spanish as ‘Approximately’ and ‘Concerning’

How do you say “about” in Spanish? That depends on what “about” is about.

“About” can function as a preposition or adverb. In almost all situations, it can be translated to Spanish in more than one way. This article details only the most common, as there are probably dozens in total that can express the ideas behind the word. Wendy J Daniel, an essay writer at Mcessay, says that most important — and this holds true whenever you’re trying to express a thought in another language — is that you translate for meaning rather than plugging in a word you find in the dictionary.

When “About” Is an Adverb Used for Approximations

Most commonly, “about” can be expressed using aproximadamente, a cognate of “approximately.” Más o menos (more or less) or unos are also common translations when “about” precedes a number.

  • About 900 people are deported daily. Aproximadamente 900 personas son deportados diariamente.
  • The compass was invented in China in about the 9th century. La brújula se inventó aproximadamente en el siglo IX en China.
  • About when was the last time you expressed your anguish with tears in your eyes? ¿Aproximadamente cuándo fue la última vez que expresaste tu angustia con lágrimas en los ojos?
  • Great, 19 is about 20. Bueno, diecinueve es más o menos veinte.
  • High-fructose corn syrup is about half fructose. El jarabe de maíz alto en fructosa es más o menos mitad fructosa.
  • The champion acknowledged that his plan is to play about five more years before retiring. El campeón confesó que su plan es jugar unos cinco años más antes de retirarse.
  • About 1,000 people have participated. Unas mil personas han participado.

When “About” Is a Preposition Meaning “Concerning” or “on the Subject of”

 “About” can usually be expressed using deacerca de or sobre.

  • What’s your opinion about the death penalty? ¿Qué opina de la pena de muerte?
  • It’s better if you write about what you know. Es mejor si escribes de lo que sabes.
  • The only thing predictable about business is that it is fundamentally unpredictable. Lo único que es predecible acerca de los negocios es que son fundamentalmente impredecibles.
  • How much do you know about drugs? ¿Qué tanto sabes acerca de las drogas?
  • Unfortunately, I understand everything about pain. Desafortunadamente, entiendo todo acerca del dolor.
  • In the past little was studied about depression in children. En el pasado poco se estudiaba sobre la depresión en niños.
  • The “about me” page makes your profile be complete. La página “sobre mí” hace que tu perfil sea completo.

When “About” Is an Adverb for Uses Other than Approximations

“About” in this case needs to be translated based on the context. One way to do this is by translating “about” to another word or phrase and then translating that phrase. For example, in the first sample below, “about” means “almost,” and casi is the most common word with that meaning:

  • That night he about died. Esa noche casi murió.
  • Her eyes jumped about while she tried to think. Sus ojos saltaron de un lado a otro mientras trataba de pensar.
  • He looked all about before entering. Miró a todos lugares antes de entrar.
  • Jorge lives with garbage about. Jorge vive rodeado de basura.

In the Phrase “To Think About”

The usual translation is pensar en:

  • Are you thinking about the love we have? ¿Piensas en el amor que tenemos?
  • What is certain is that I’m not thinking about the consequences. Lo cierto es que no pienso en las consecuencias.

When “About” Is Part of a Phrasal Verb

Phrasal verbs in English are those verbs such as “to bring about” in which a word is added after a verb to give it a different meaning. These verbs need to be learned separately; often you can translate them by translating a synonym of the English phrasal verb. In the first sample below, efectuar is used to translate “to bring about,” which often means “to effect.”

  • The president brought about a radical change in our lifestyle. El presidente efectuó un cambio radical en nuestro modo de vivir.
  • I need to see about what I can do. Necesito considerar lo que puedo hacer.
  • She set about to plan her escape. Se puso a planear un escape.
  • He went about from one city to another. Fue de una ciudad a otra.
  • How do I go about buying a car? ¿Cuáles son los pasos de comprar un coche?
  • The war came about because of domestic politics. La guerra ocurrió por motivos de política doméstica.

About the author: Alissa Zucker is an experienced essay writer at Mcessay. She used to work as a content writer. Having decided to start a freelance career, she fired. Currently, she has enough time for her hobbies and family caring.

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