J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in chapter III in The Hobbit the following phrase:

“There were moths fluttering about,”

I know how to use the word about in most contexts. In this I don't understand what is the meaning of the word, what is his function.

  • Did you consult a dictionary? – Hot Licks Dec 13 '15 at 1:23
  • Yes... I did and didn't help. – Pichi Wuana Dec 13 '15 at 1:24
  • When you looked at the dictionary, how many different definitions for the adverb form were there? Merriam-Webster has six, and three of the six give you a sense of the meaning in your quote. – Hot Licks Dec 13 '15 at 1:28
  • I think because I saw it in the part of prepositions, sorry. The answer of ServalSpots was more helpful. – Pichi Wuana Dec 13 '15 at 1:36

From dictionary.com (No. 16)

from one place to another; in this place or that:
    to move furniture about; important papers strewn about.

  • Nice answer. If I might suggest an improvement -- add a note distinguishing this adverbial usage from the prepositional. – deadrat Dec 13 '15 at 7:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.