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Regarding the sentence

She kept walking about the room.

Is that ok to use "in" instead, as in

She kept walking in the room

Why is "about" used in this sentence?

Is there any difference to between "about" and "in"?

(The above question was asked to me)

3 Answers 3

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The definition of "about" is

Used to indicate movement in an area

While "in" is

Expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else

So, here, "about" is more specific. "She kept walking about the room." brings up a mental image of a woman pacing around a room. "She kept walking in the room" brings up a mental image of a woman walking in a straight line in a room (to me at least) Aside from this, "she kept walking in the room" has another meaning-- "she kept entering the room", which is a completely different situation.

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    To amend this: "around" is a much closer comparison here than "in". "Around" in the context of an enclosed space usually fits the same purpose as "about".
    – user98085
    Jan 24, 2013 at 12:13
  • @FEichinger: I don't quite get what change you want me to make... Edit the post yourself and I'll approve it :) Jan 24, 2013 at 12:16
  • I guess there is another meaning which could be implied from She kept walking in the room. and that is She kept entering the room.. Am I right?
    – 2hamed
    Jan 24, 2013 at 12:22
  • @HamedMomeni: Yep. I added it, thanks for the tip :) Jan 24, 2013 at 12:23
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    I disagree on the 'kept walking in the room' meaning. Maybe if it was 'kept walking into the room' or 'kept walking in the room and then walking out again', but 'kept walking in the room' by itself would mean maintained an upright bi-pedal movement which did not extend beyond the boundaries of the room's walls. At most you would be questioned as to the possibility of the other meaning, imho.
    – mcalex
    Jan 24, 2013 at 16:31
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The meaning of "to walk about" is "to walk with no particular goal".

I can't agree "about" can be viewed as a separate word. Instead, I would say it is an idiom, a phrase that cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, like "what's up" can't be viewed as "what's" + "up".

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In would imply she is entering the room. Entering into the room.

About implies that she has already entered the room and is now walking around inside the room.

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