main menu


THINK OF and THINK ABOUT are effectively interchangeable in many contexts.

"What do you think of/about that?"
"I'm thinking of/about looking for a new job."

However, there are occasions when one would be slightly (or clearly) favored over the other.

"I get excited when I think about football season getting underway."
"I can think of 10 reasons why you shouldn't text and drive."

THINK OF often means you're at least aware of the thing, but may not have given it a great deal of consideration; the idea just comes to your mind.

"I never thought of doing that." (that possibility never crossed my mind)

THINK ABOUT often implies more focused or extended attention; a longer period of contemplation on the matter at hand.

"Have you thought about mom's birthday present?" (have you decided/ considered what to give?)

THINK ABOUT suggests that a deliberate process is involved; when you're actively considering something or concentrating on the thought of it.

"Let me think about it." 

However, both THINK OF and THINK ABOUT can be used for possible future actions.

"I was thinking about leaving home."
"I'm thinking of moving to Sydney." 

THINK ABOUT can be used to tell someone strongly not to do something.

"Don't even think about calling him!" 

Both THINK OF and THINK ABOUT can mean to:

1. reflect, remember, ponder.

"I think of you when I'm lonely."
"I've been thinking about Joanne every day since she left." 

2. express an opinion. 

A: "What did you think of/about Mary's speech?" B: "I didn't think much of it."

Many users feel that 'think of' is used for overall appraisal; an approval or disapproval answer, while 'think about' implies more general thoughts on a matter or person.

A: "What did you think of the game?" B: "I loved it."
A: "What do you think about my sister’s boyfriend?" B: "Well, I like his humor."

3. find a solution (there can be a bit more of the difference between the terms).

"I thought about a solution to our problem." (I may not find a solution)
"I thought of a solution to our problem - we must sell the car." (I found a solution)

THINK OF can mean to behave in a way that shows that you want to treat other people well.

"It was very good of you to think of me."

If your friend bought your favorite strawberry banana swirl ice cream, you could say, 'Thanks for thinking of me.'

"He's always thinking of other people."

It can be used to say that you care about and feel sympathy for someone who is in a difficult situation.

"Take care! I'll be thinking of you."

THINK OF can also mean to:

1. recall; picture in one's mind; bring sb/sth to mind. 

"I'm trying to think of that person's name."
"I am trying to think of the phone number for that store."

2. imagine.

"Seeing the picture of Paris made me think of my friend who lives there."
"It is hot! I am thinking of lying on the beach eating a big ice-cream."

3. come up with an idea; get an idea; devise; invent; create, etc.

"I'm trying to think of a new password." 
"Nobody had ever thought of such a clever piece of software."

It can also mean choose in one's mind.

 "Think of any number between 1 and 25."

4. keep in mind for attention or consideration.

 "Think of the starving children in India!"

5. look on as or consider.

"He thinks of himself as a brilliant musician."

6. intend to refer to.

"I'm thinking of good food when I talk about France."

To sum it up, 'think of' often means recalling something specific, while 'think about' seems to mean considering some subject in a more vague or general way for some length of time.

"I'd say 'think about' means to ponder or consider and 'think of' is simply the act of recalling to mind; visualize the imaginary light bulb coming on over someone's head."

The two are sometimes interchangeable because there are many situations where you can't think about something without also thinking of it.

"When I think about a healthy breakfast, I think of cereal with fruit."
"I can't think of it right now, but maybe I will, if I think about it long enough."

Think about English, an expressive, but completely disorganized mess of a language with a few rules and a million exceptions you can think of. Can you think of any more nuances here?

reactions :