“Think about” and “think of” are two phrases that many people use interchangeably.
However, the phrases have different purposes and meanings. The wrong use can lead to miscommunication.
If you’re one of those who are confused about this, then the following sections will surely help clear your mind.
What Is The Difference Between “Think Of” And “Think About”?
“Think of” is used when you’re simply recalling something that happened in the past. “Think about” is used when you’re thinking of an idea about a present matter. When using “Think of”, we are expressing emotions. This is not necessarily the case with “Think about”.
When we say we think of something, we usually refer to a person, thing, or event that happened in the past. You can say this when you are generally reminded of an idea.
In addition, the former phrase comes with feelings and emotions. There is remembrance, affection, love, anger, or anything that you may have with the idea.
This is why we say we think of a person when it rains, or we think of our childhood when we see other kids. There is an act of reminiscing.
On the other hand, when we say we think about something, we don’t necessarily feel anything. It can be about a concern, issue, or anything that may be happening in the present.
Hence, we can say that we will think about a job offer, or we think about how to solve current social issues. You are actively entertaining thoughts and not just memories.
A good rule of thumb is to use “think of” when referring to the past and “think about” when it comes to present and future events.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Think Of” In A Sentence
Here are some examples of how to use “think of” in a sentence:
- What do you think of when you see this part of town?
- Were you close to her? You seem to think of her a lot when you’re not busy.
- I often think of my ambitions when I see someone else achieve theirs.
- I think of my mother a lot whenever I go out of town.
- Have you watched the latest episode? What do you think of it?
- I think of the long peaceful nights in the province when I get overwhelmed by the city.
- I used to think of him every time it rains.
From what you may have noticed, the sentences usually revolve around something that happened in the past.
To better understand this, remember the term “trigger”. There is a triggering event when you think of something.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Think About” In A Sentence
Moving on, here are some examples of how you can use “think about” in a sentence:
- I’ll think about the scholarship offer. I’m not yet decided on where to go for college.
- She tried not thinking about her miscarriage, but it was just really hard.
- She had more priorities to think about, like feeding a baby despite her low salary.
- I think I need more time to think about what to do now.
- Just think about it. You’ll be able to study in a university like you always wanted!
- Is it okay if I think about what to buy first? I don’t want to spend too much.
- What do you think about the latest issue online?
In contrast to “think of”, “think about” does not need any triggering event. Instead, you’re giving a deep thought to an idea.
In addition, as you can see from the sentences above, no reminiscing happened. The events are based on either the present or future.
Can “Think Of” And “Think About” Ever Be Used Interchangeably?
There are some cases wherein you can use either “think of” or “think about”. This can be when talking about how knowledgeable you are about an idea.
For instance, you can say:
“I think of that social issue I saw online since I think it’s controversial.”
At the same time, it’s still right if you say:
“I think about that social issue I saw online since I think it’s controversial.”
Either statement is right and delivers the same meaning. The person you’re talking to can still understand what you want to say.
Note, though, that in a deeper analysis, “think of” can still seem like a passing thought, while “think about” means you’re giving time into pondering about the idea.
Is It Ever Correct To Use “Think On”?
The phrase “think on” is not structurally correct, but you can still use it for conversational purposes. It has the same meaning as “think about”, just a more informal version.
If you’re casually talking to someone, you will still be understood if you say “think on”. It just means that you’ll be taking the time to think about something.
Usually, when used in a sentence, it will look like this:
“I think she’s confused. She said she’ll have to think on it for the night.”
If you want a more formal synonym, then you can use “think it over” instead. It’s grammatically correct, and you will be more understood.
Is It “Thinking About You” Or “Thinking Of You”?
“Thinking about you” and “Thinking of you” are both right. You just have to depend on when you will use it.
Previously, we said that “think about” is generally used for present and future ideas.
Thus, you should use “thinking about you” when you’re currently thinking of the person for no fixed reason. So, you can say, “I’m thinking about you while cooking.”
On the flip side, “think of” is for ideas that get triggered by events. Hence, you can say, “I’m thinking of you whenever I join a contest.”
The difference between the two is when you ponder about the person. The former is for “just because” moments, and the latter are usually accompanied by events.
Quiz: Have You Mastered The Think Of Vs. Think About Grammar?
Now, let’s test if you really understood our topic. Here’s a short quiz that you can answer:
- What do you (A. think of, B. think about) when the sun sets?
- I saw a dress, and it made me think (A. think of, B. think about) you.
- Do you want to quit? (A. Think of, B. Think about) the possible promotions that you can get.
- Just (A. think of, B. think about) the struggles we’ve been through before being in where we are now.
- Is it alright to (A. think of, B. think about) her whenever I go back to my alma mater?
Take the time to think about the right answer. Once you’re done, you can go to the next section for the answers.
Are you done? Here are the answers:
How well did you do? What did you think of while answering?
The phrases “think of” and “think about”, although often misused, are used differently. You should use the former if you’re reminiscing a past event and the latter for present ideas.
These differences won’t matter much if you’re in a simple conversation. However, these are very important if you want to write a well-understood writing task.
You may also like: I’ve Been Thinking About You vs. I Was Thinking About You
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.