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I am curious to know the role and meaning of the word ''about'' in this sentence:

The outcome of this example gives an intuitive impression of what about to expect if we turn from our special function to an arbitrary one, as we shall do next.

[ ''Advanced Engineering mathematics'' by ''Erwin Kreyszig'' 10th ed Page 511] This is the meaning that the dictionary said:

be about to do something if someone is about to do something, or if something is about to happen, they will do it or it will happen very soon: • We were just about to leave when Jerry arrived. • Work was about to start on a new factory building.

In my opinion, if this is the intended meaning, ''we are'' should have been removed from this sentence, that is, the original sentence should have been like this:

The outcome of this example gives an intuitive impression of what we are about to expect if we turn from our special function to an arbitrary one, as we shall do next.

Is this the meaning intended by the author?

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    The sentence doesn't make sense with about in it. Please give the source. Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 17:41
  • Every instance of "of what about to expect" I can find is in poorly written English. A fluent English speaker would say "This outcome shows about what to expect...". The sentence in your post is not well-written.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 18:16
  • this text is from ''Advanced Engineering mathematics'' by ''Erwin Kreyszig'' 10th ed Page 511 Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 20:29
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    Seems to be an error from a non-native writer of English.
    – James K
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 0:11
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    @JamesK Erwin O. Kreyszig (January 6, 1922 in Pirna, Germany – December 12, 2008) was a German Canadian applied mathematician… according to the author information from Amazon. I think that explains the odd verbosity and strange turns of phrase like “intuitive impression”.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 23:04

3 Answers 3

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I agree with commenters that this sentence is poorly written. That said, it seems like they are using "about" to mean "almost" or "close to".

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"About" here is an adverb meaning "approximately." This usage is, however, both unusual and confusing in this context.

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AS other answers have said, the word "about" here is used in the sense of "approximately" or "roughly". But the placement of the adverb is akward and not natural. If the sentence was rephrased as:

The outcome of this example gives an intuitive impression of about what to expect if we turn from our special function to an arbitrary one, as we shall do next.

the meaning is somewhat unchanged, and he structure is closer to natural. This sentence is still over-complex and not the best writing ever, but I think it is significantly less confusing than the original, yet the change is minimal.

If the sentence is rewritten further to:

The outcome of this example gives a rough idea of what to expect if we turn from our special function to an arbitrary one. We will now consider such a general function.

The meaning is still unchanged, but the usage is significantly more natural. Note that "about" has vanished.

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