Think About vs. Think OfWritten by Scott Dreyer
Tonight in one of my writing classes, a student in Shenzhen, China had written an essay: How to Learn Chinese.
Curious, I asked her: "Why did you choose this topic?"
Her answer: "It's the first thing I could think about."
Her answer sounded a bit strange to my ear, and I thought about it. In this case, English speakers would probably say, "It's the first thing I could think of."
That made me think: When do we use "think about" vs. "think of?"
This implies a person's attention and thoughts are focused on a subject for a long time. Examples:
- I think about how to do my homework. --Yunni, student in Shenzhen
- Global warming is a serious problem; please think about it carefully and find a solution to solve it. --Felicia, student in Taipei
- Billy keeps thinking about the girl who sits in front of him in class.
- Martha is so busy raising her three young children at home, she doesn't have much time to think about much else right now.
This implies a person think up or creates an idea; it can usually be done quickly. Examples:
- "Ellie is crying, can you think of anything that can cheer her up?" Jack asked Ella. --Felicia, student in Taipei
- Have you thought of where we should go today? --Yunni, student in Shenzhen (Language note: this sentence can be written both ways. "Thought of" implies you came up with an idea of where to go today, while "thought about" implies you spent quite a bit of time pondering the issue, but maybe you have not come up with an answer yet. Notice also this sentence uses "think" in the past tense.)
- I wanted to make dinner quickly, and spaghetti was the first thing I could think of.
- Tests make me so nervous. Many times I really do know the answer, but I just cannot think of it right away during the test!
So if you think about it, English is a crazy language. I saw so many people having a hard time learning it, so I thought of a way to help people figure it out: learn English online! Contact me today to find out how we can help you!
A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer
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