I would like to know the distinctions between these following words and phrases when they express approximations.

I will be there in about an hour.
I will be there in around an hour.
I will be there in more or less an hour.
I will be there in an hour or so.

After writing these down, I find the second one and the third one somewhat unnatural. But they are only for demonstrative purpose.
What is the difference in terms of meaning?
Do they have any differences in other aspects? like the kind of object they approximate or something else.

  • 1
    There is no difference in the meanings of the four. It may be that some people will assign a wider variance to one vs the others, but this is so highly personalized that one can draw no general conclusions. And, as Rathony suggests, using "more or less" in the above context is a little "odd" (though not incorrect).
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 21, 2015 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


If you are confused with using those words/phrases related with "approximation", it is better to use "approximately" as they all mean it (a bit long though).

There is one problem with "more or less" which means:

Approximately: more or less symmetrical

Even though it means "approximately", its usage is different. It means more "more or less symmetrical" than "approximation of a number or quantity". Therefore, it is not usually used with a number or quantity.

Spring barley area is marginally down and oats are more or less at the same level as a year earlier.
Although the rail industry remains in crisis, trains are now running more or less to timetable.
This is the same group of players more or less who did well two years ago and were doing the same things.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

Regarding the difference between "about" and "around", you can see the answer here.

The below Ngram Viewer shows a big difference in their usages. "About" is the choice when you are talking about a short period of time.

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