approximative VP adverbials

Gregory {Greg} Downing gd2 at IS2.NYU.EDU
Thu Jan 25 16:46:21 UTC 2001

At 11:35 AM 1/25/2001 EST, George Thompson wrote:
>        I have been struck by rather frequent occurences in the NYC
>newspapers of the 1820s of sentences constucted with "about" and a
>particicple, used when I would write "just about to".

The "about to" construction more familiar today is treated at OED2 about,
meaning 12, attested back to the 16th cent. The construction with a verbal
noun rather than the infinitive is treated as meaning 13, from late in the
18th cent.:

13. By further extension it is used with the verbal n. in the same sense.
1793 Smeaton Edystone Lightho. [sec.] 254 The season we were then about
1865 Carlyle Fredk. Gt. ix. 169 (1873) England seems about deserting him.
Ibid. 88 The celestial sign of the balance just about canting.

Greg Downing, at greg.downing at or gd2 at

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