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.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

From Where I Lived, and What I Lived For by Henry David Thoreau:

The only house I had been the owner of before, if I except a boat, was a tent, which I used occasionally when making excursions in the summer, and this is still rolled up in my garret; but the boat, after passing from hand to hand, has gone down the stream of time. With this more substantial shelter about me, I had made some progress toward settling in the world. [Emphasis added.]

How can a shelter be about him? I think it should be of mine.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

About, in this sense, means

prep. 1. On all sides of; surrounding: I found an English garden all about me.

American Heritage Dictionary

So his new shelter is around him, protecting him. The shelter is also "of his" (belonging to him), as is made clear in text preceding this excerpt.

share|improve this answer
    
Note that this usage is less common in modern parlance, though not completely antiquated yet. It might seem a bit too "poetic" to use in everyday speech. – Darrel Hoffman Feb 14 at 18:06

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.