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I was hoping to have some help understanding whether or not it is appropriate to use "about" in the following example sentences.

1.This is the novel which I told you about yesterday.

  1. Tell us the reason which you told the teacher about when you came in late.

I feel that the use of about in the first sentence is necessary, but in the second sentence, it does not. This preposition has a lot of uses, so I am unsure.

2 Answers 2

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You are right. In sentence (1), the speaker probably described the novel when they mentioned it yesterday (told the other person about it).

In (2), the student informed the teacher of their reason for being late; they probably didn't describe it. (They told the teacher the reason.)

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Example 1 is fine for everyday speech. You could also say "this is the novel about which I told you yesterday" if you wanted to sound a little more formal.

Example 2 doesn't need 'about'. Talking 'about' something means giving detail about the stated subject, for example, "tell me about yourself". But in this example, the 'reason' is the complete answer - there are no more details to be given other than repeating what has already been said to the teacher.

Also, you're using "which" for a defining clause. It should be:

Tell us the reason that you told the teacher when you came in late.

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  • Thanks for your answer! For example 1, could you also say "This is the novel which I told you yesterday?" or would it be "This is the novel which I told you about yesterday"? If the latter is correct, why do you need about there?
    – noelle
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 1:34
  • @noelle Neither. As I explained in my answer, you shoudl use 'that' for defining clauses, not 'which'.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 15:35

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