This is a very useful expression when we want to tell that we were just getting ready to do something. We have not started it or done it, but we were almost ready to do it.
We usually use this sentence pattern when we are getting ready to start, but something stops or interrupts us. Situation:
I am in the park and I want to call my friend and ask my friend to come. I get out my phone, and then I see my friend. My friend is already in the park.
In this situation, we might say this to our friend.I was about + infinitive...
- I was about to cook dinner and then my friend came over with pizza. It was a nice surprise.
- I heard a strange noise, and I was about to call the police. But then, I saw it wasn't a robber. It was a bird!
- I was about to fire him when he quit.
- I was about to leave when my boss asked me to work overtime.
- I was about to eat when my son started crying.
We can also use other subjects.
- We were about to leave when our friend came in.
- Tina was about to say something when Mary started talking.
- They were about to eat when the fire alarm went off.
- Karen was about to cry after she heard the news, but we made her feel better.
We can use the word "just" to emphasize. Subject + was/were + just about + infinitive...
Bonus Tips and Points
- We were just about to leave when the call came.
- I was just about to go outside when it started to rain.
- They were just about to complain and then they heard the news.
- I was just about to call you. What a coincidence!
- Mark was just about to buy that stock when he heard the news about the company.
- We were just about to eat when the phone rang.
1. We can also make questions with this pattern. We usually use these questions when it looks like somebody is about to start doing something or was about to start doing something, but we do not know what. We can make these questions in the present tense or the past tense.
- What are you about to do?
- What were you about to do before I came in?
- Where are you about to go?
- Where were you about to go?
- Were you about to punch him?
- Are you about to leave?
- Were you about to sleep?
- Are you about to eat?
2. It is possible to make negative sentences with this pattern.
Real-World English Conversations
- I wasn't about to leave.
- She wasn't about to quit. Where did you hear that?
- He was not about to punch me. Who told you that?
A) Do you want to get some food?
B) I was just about to go home, but okay. Let's get some food.
A) I was just about to call you!
B) No need. I am here.
A) We were about to start the meeting, but then there was a fire in the building.
B) Oh my! Is everybody okay?
A) Everybody is fine. It was just a small fire in the kitchen area.
A) I was just about to call the police when you came.
B) Well, it is lucky that I showed up.
A) They were about to quit their jobs, but I persuaded them not to.
B) I am glad that you persuaded them not to do it.
A) Hey! Where are you going?
B) I was just about to go and get a cup of coffee.
A) A cup of coffee sounds good. Do you mind if I tag along?
B) Not at all. Let's go. Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using them at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget.