Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

enter image description hereI saw a road sign that said: this sidewalk to be closed on or about. I am not sure what this means.

share|improve this question
1  
I think this question is Too Basic, even for ELU. I've never seen such a sign before - but it's pretty obviously re-usable. That's why it has so much space under the "professionally-applied" lettering, to allow for an actual date to be chalked or otherwise temporarily added for any specific job. –  FumbleFingers Dec 28 '13 at 20:43
7  
I don't think it's too basic as a learner's question at all. –  snailplane Dec 28 '13 at 20:48
4  
Being one of the learners, I had to pause and think for a while before I could figure it out. Imho, it's not quite easy to figure that out by oneself. I'm more familiar with signs that provide dots or underscores to hint that the date or duration will be filled in. With just that empty space, the hint from the words on or about would not be enough for most ELLs. I would like to remind us that most of us the learners still struggle with basic questions such as which preposition we should use before a date or a duration, and so on. –  Damkerng T. Dec 28 '13 at 21:54
    
Shouldn't there be Will be closed? That construction is really hard to understand. –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Dec 29 '13 at 10:31
    
@ŁukaszL. "to be closed" in a context like this means something like "will be closed by the authorities". –  Mark S. Dec 29 '13 at 17:45

1 Answer 1

It sounds like someone forgot to finish the sign... A sign that says that a sidewalk is to be closed "on or about" is probably meant to have someone write in the date "on or about" which the sidewalk is to be closed.

In normal usage, the phrase "on or about" is followed by a date and has the same meaning as "approximately." If a sign says that a sidewalk will be closed on or about January 5, 2014, I wouldn't be surprised if it were closed anytime between a few days before to a few days after January 5, 2014.

The phrase has a more precise legal definition when used in legal documents.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.