Are you certain that the everyday phrases you’re using for daily conversation are the only way you could put it? Have you ever encountered the dilemma of think of vs think about? Think again!
Imagine the English language as the vast ocean. With all its glamor and richness, lies the mystery and complexity it bears. There’s rarely a word that can be used exclusively and that same word can be paired with a thousand different other words to convey another thousand varied messages. In addition, there are different phrases today that have their appropriate and correct uses in different circumstances. The phrases ‘think of’ and ‘think about’ are perfect examples. Most people probably just use these said phrases alternately without putting much thought into their differences. So, is it ‘think of’ or ‘think about’? Well, their difference rests between whether one expresses remembrance or a sense of affection. The discussion about think of vs think about will feel like a soft tickle in your mind but stay and let’s fuel your engine of knowledge.
Fasten your seat belts, scroll down, and read more.
Think of vs Think about: The Beginning
Before we take on the difference between think of vs think about— two commonly thrown phrases, let’s start with the common denominator first which is the word ‘think’. The word ‘think’ can work as a noun and as a verb. Now, the origin of this word, goes way back from the Old English term thencan and its Germanic origin denken.
To emphasize the use of the word ‘think of’, take a look at the subheading above this paragraph. The subheading literally speaks the use of ‘think of’ which is when one expresses the feeling of remembering something. Another way to simply put its use is whenever you or someone call something to mind. Moreover, ‘think of’ is an expression that lasts for less time considering the duration of thought and eventually goes away in a short time. Look at the examples below.
I think of my mom when I smell cinnamon.
She thinks of her trophies whenever she is working on a new book.
The similar use of ‘think of’ in both sentences indicates the expression of remembrance. The first sentence reminded her of her mom when the aroma of cinnamon triggered her sense of smell. Subsequently, the person in the second sentence remembered her trophies whenever she worked on a new book.
As stated earlier, the use of ‘think of’ only lasts for a short time, and in the first example, the person does not constantly think of her mother, as in the second example, her trophies.
On the other hand, in clearing the difference between think of vs. think about, the latter or think about expresses the sense of interest due to affection or any other feeling. In contrast with ‘think of’ considering the duration of thought, ‘think about’ is the lengthier one and suggests a more lasting moment. Proceed to the example below to see the use of the phrase ‘think about’.
Think about the things you went through and look at how far you’ve come.
LEARN ABOUT PREPOSITIONS
With the hopes of understanding and clearing the confusion between think of vs think about and reiterating their use, the former is for the circumstance of remembering something that comes to mind for a short time, while the latter is for the circumstance of expressing with the sense of affection and is often lengthy.
Since we’re in this, let’s have a quick review of prepositions and those we often encounter aside from ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘under’, etc.
As lifted from Merriam-Webster, the technical definition of a preposition is ‘“a word or group of words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object.”. They are words to connect or tie a noun to an idea.
Other Tricky Prepositions in the English Language
Worry less, it’s completely normal to get a little lost with prepositions. There are a good number of tricky prepositions in the English language aside from ‘in the beginning or at the beginning’ and ‘think of vs. think about’.
Another one we have is into vs. in to. One can only differentiate into vs. in to by closely observing their context and listening for a slight pause. Identify the difference using the examples below.
He drove into the city without his license.
A lady came in to get her nails done.
Closely analyze the use of into and in to. Into as a preposition indicates direction and/or motion. It means going inside of something.
Quite like think of vs. think about, there is heard of vs. heard about. Both suggest getting to know about something. One must keep a keen eye to differentiate the two. Heard of implicate that you know something simply exists, while heard about implicating learning more details and specific information about something. The use of the two can be noticed in the examples given.
I heard of a new coffee shop around the corner. (I learned that there is a new coffee shop)
I heard about a new coffee shop around the corner. (I know some information about the new hotspot for coffee lovers)
Redirecting to think of vs think about and adding to the existing idea, think of simply implies a brief or passing thought. To think about implies concentration on a certain something to understand it and remember it.
Prepositions of Time
Now, here are some sentences with the use of prepositions of time.
At – used to describe specific times like a particular numerical time on the clock or could refer to a particular event, holiday, or time of day.
- The girls often go out at night.
- Alicia started training for the swimming team at the age of ten.
- Chuck often starts his schoolwork after dinner at 8:00 p.m.
- We had lunch at 12:00 over Tiffany’s.
In – commonly used with longer periods. This describes a more general time that doesn’t indicate a specific clock time or time of day.
- She got up late in the morning.
- Carol is planning to leave in February.
- I was born in 1999.
- The train will be leaving in a few minutes.
On – is used in a more particular manner such as specific days, dates, or named days. These include a calendar date, a day of the week, or a special day, that can be named by its significance.
- Let’s have our hangout on Thursday!
- Aldrin felt nervous on his Proclamation Day.
- We’ll have our general auditing on September 30th.
- On Christmas day, the whole family gathers and spends some good time over pumpkin lattes.
Prepositions of Place
The preposition of place shows the relationship of place between the nouns and other parts of the sentence. Given below are some examples of prepositions of place and their use in different sentences.
Above – indicates something out of reach or in a much higher position.
- The mesmerizing sky above the mountains.
- Hold your hands above your shoulders.
- The post office relocated above the bakery.
Below – preposition to be used when something is at a lower position or level than another.
- Jb has a scar just below his left eye.
- Below us is the underpass.
- Write your name below the line.
Towards – pertains to a point in the direction of something or along a course leading to the position.
- She walked towards her car when she sensed danger.
- Paul turned toward the cone and tripped.
- The proceeds collected will go toward the renovation of the animal pound.
Prepositions following Verbs and Adjectives
In usual cases, you may see that adjectives and verbs are followed by certain prepositions. Correspondingly, the prepositions that follow verbs and adverbs may give the phrase a new meaning. In this case just like ‘pay off’ and ‘pay for’.
There are various online tools to help you find which prepositions, adjectives, and verbs are suitable together. We have the trusted and widely known, Merriam- Webster, and the option to use corpora, such as The Corpus of Contemporary American English. You may access these free and easy to navigate online tools to look up verbs or adjectives. Keep in mind that memorizing phrases and not just the preposition is the most helpful tip.
Adjectives + Prepositions
Some common examples of adjectives + prepositions combinations:
Beneficial to: The practice of regularly talking with people and catering to their inquiries is proven to be beneficial to those in the communications field.
Aware of: Shay doesn’t seem to be aware of the debate that has been going on.
Different from: The way Tina spoke yesterday is different from the Tina we knew as a child.
Grateful for: The foundation is grateful for the support that it has been receiving for the past months.
Familiar with: There are a lot of people that aren’t familiar with the different uses of prepositions.
Verbs + Prepositions
Let’s proceed to knowing some common examples of verbs and prepositions that pair together.
Resulted in: The heated argument between the two parties resulted in havoc.
Searching for: Five kids are searching for the remaining easter eggs.
Depend on: The decision will depend on the voted representative.
Deal with: Arnie is asked to deal with the situation.
Suffers from: George’s mother suffers from dementia.
One should also watch out for any unnecessary prepositions as they must be left out in sentences to create a well-written and organized output.
Example: The gymnast jumped off of the balance beam.
Revision: The gymnast jumped off the balance beam.
Prepositional Phrases and Wordiness
The use of both pronouns and prepositional phrases can create wordiness in a sentence but such sentences can be shortened and condensed to achieve clarity.
Ending a Sentence with a Preposition
Aforetime, ending sentences with a preposition was disfavored. It was when the rule is associated with Latin grammar and accordance with this grammatical rule results in unclear sentence structures.
Example: The test results are released. Where should I submit my requirements to?
Note that this may be applicable for informal writing, but not in writing formal outputs like research papers and business proposals.
THINK OF VS THINK ABOUT: THE BEAUTY IN LANGUAGE
The purpose of discussing the nuances between think of and think about is not to confuse or intimidate you but rather to spark your interest in the beauty of this rich language. Its abundance is unparalleled. Being aware of these rules and phrases enhances our conversational and writing skills, making them grammatically correct. This helps us understand ourselves and how we can further create interesting ways to communicate
We deal with language in our daily lives as we speak and write. The freedom is ours to experiment with it and dive deeper in the pool of words— to play and find interest in it.
Think of yourself as a wordsmith and this is your craft. Your very own table of resources is laid before you on a long table, you just have to try and look for the materials that will suit your style. By exploring and experimenting, we gain a better understanding of the flow of language and how to use “think of” and “think about” appropriately.