When it comes to translating words from one language to another, nuances and subtleties often arise. The word “about” is no exception, and its translation into French is worth exploring. In this guide, we will delve into the various ways to translate “about” in French, shedding light on its meaning and usage in different contexts.

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Translation Options

“About” as an Adverb

In English, “about” can function as an adverb, indicating an approximate or general amount, time, or location. In French, this sense of “about” can be translated in several ways, depending on the context:

a) “Environ” – This is the most common translation for “about” when expressing an approximate quantity or time. For example:

  • There were about twenty people at the party. –> Il y avait environ vingt personnes à la fête.
  • I’ll be there at about 7 p.m. –> Je serai là vers 19 heures environ.

b) “À peu près” – This translation conveys the idea of “about” when referring to an approximate or rough estimation:

  • It weighs about two kilos. –> Ça pèse à peu près deux kilos.

c) “Vers” – Used to indicate an approximate time or direction:

  • He arrives at about 3 p.m. –> Il arrive vers 15 heures.

“About” as a Preposition

In English, “about” can also function as a preposition, indicating a general topic, subject, or relation. In French, there are different ways to convey this meaning:

a) “À propos de” – This is a common translation for “about” when discussing a particular subject or topic:

  • We had a conversation about politics. –> Nous avons eu une conversation à propos de la politique.

b) “Concernant” – This translation is suitable for expressing the idea of “about” when referring to a specific matter or issue:

  • I have something to tell you about the project. –> J’ai quelque chose à te dire concernant le projet.

c) “Sur” – While “sur” primarily means “on,” it can also be used to indicate “about” in the context of discussing a subject or topic:

  • Let’s talk about the movie. –> Parlons du film.

Usage Examples

  1. “About” indicating approximation:
    • I need about five minutes to finish. –> J’ai besoin d’environ cinq minutes pour terminer.
    • The temperature is about 25 degrees Celsius. –> La température est d’environ 25 degrés Celsius.
  2. “About” referring to a subject or topic:
    • I read a book about history. –> J’ai lu un livre sur l’histoire.
    • The article talks about climate change. –> L’article parle du changement climatique.


Translating the word “about” into French requires an understanding of its various meanings and contexts. Whether used as an adverb to express approximation or as a preposition to indicate a subject or topic, the appropriate translation depends on the specific context. By exploring the different options, such as “environ,” “à peu près,” “vers,” “à propos de,” “concernant,” and “sur,” one can accurately convey the intended meaning of “about” in French.


Are there different translations of “about” depending on the context in French?

Yes, the translation of “about” in French can vary depending on the context. When used as an adverb to indicate an approximate amount, time, or location, common translations include “environ,” “à peu près,” and “vers.” When “about” functions as a preposition to denote a general topic or subject, translations such as “à propos de,” “concernant,” and “sur” are commonly used. The appropriate translation depends on the specific context and intended meaning.

Can you provide examples of idiomatic expressions using “about” in French?

Certainly! Here are some idiomatic expressions in French that use the word “about”:

  1. “C’est à peu près ça.” – It means “That’s about it” or “That’s roughly it.” This expression is used to indicate that something is close to being correct or accurate.
  2. “Tourner autour du pot.” – It translates to “To beat around the bush.” This expression is used to describe someone who avoids getting to the main point or is being indirect in their communication.
  3. “Ça ne me dit rien qui vaille.” – It means “There’s something fishy about it” or “It doesn’t sound good.” This expression is used to convey suspicion or doubt about a particular situation or proposal.

There are no specific grammar rules directly related to the usage of “about” in French. However, it is important to remember that the translation of “about” can vary depending on its function in a sentence (as an adverb or preposition) and the specific context. It is essential to understand the meaning and intended usage of “about” in order to choose the appropriate translation and maintain grammatical accuracy in French sentences.

In general, it is helpful to study and practice different sentence structures and idiomatic expressions that use “about” in French to become more familiar with its usage in various contexts.

Please note that while “about” can be translated into different words in French, the translations provided in this article are commonly used and convey the general meaning of “about” accurately.

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