didn't know how to go about telling

Discussion in 'English Only' started by redgiant, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    By profession he was naturally a talker, and here was something he didn't know how to go about telling, or even if he should. Just before he got to the shop he decided he wouldn't say a word, but that didn't hold up five minutes under the scrutiny of his long-time business partner, Clayton Jeffries.

    Source: http://www.smashwords.com/books/download/10913/6/latest/1/0/zombie-nights.txt

    Background: He reluctantly let his zombized nephew live in his basement. He didn't know how to deal with it.

    I'd like to know if "how to go about telling" exactly means "whether he should tell about it or not". Thanks
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    No, 'go about' here - and it seems to always occur in 'how to go about', as I can't think of a use of this meaning outside that - means "do (something rather complicated)". You might want to know how to go about getting a bank loan, or how to go about fixing an engine. The implication in your sentence is that telling would not be easy.
  3. Mar Rojo Senior Member

    British English
    In which way. How to approach the telling.
  4. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks entangledbank and Mar Rojo. There is no choice there. He had to find a way to approach something complicated,right?
  5. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Source: Timepiece, Heather Albano

    Background: Elizabeth was taken to a house for shelter from artillery fire, her dress muddy and wet. She sipped some tea to calm herself down while talking to the people in the house, but a sudden hammering on the outside door made her jump all over, spilling tea all over her already dirty dress. She was still being a bit gun-shy after going through all the trouble and danger. After seeing to that person outside, the housekeeper came back and took her upstairs to give her some new clothes to change into.

    Hi, is it okay to swap "see about" for "go about"? Does "go about" change the meaning significantly?

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