It's not my place/I'm in no position.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by hboo, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. hboo Senior Member


    I'm having a hard time understanding the different meanings between the two expressions"It's not my place" vs. "I'm in no position." For example, here are the two sentences from American TV show "Mistresses":

    1."It's not my place to grieve." - this is said by a woman who was having an affair with a married guy, and when the guy died.

    I wonder if it would mean the same if the sentence was:"I'm in no position to grieve."?

    2."It wasn't my place to interfere with his legacy." - this is said by the same woman in the same situation as above.

    I wonder if it would mean the same if the sentence was:"I was in no position to interfere with his legacy."?

  2. boozer Senior Member

    They mean different things to me:
    It is not my place to... - it would be improper/inappropriate for me to...
    I am in no position to... - I am unable to...
  3. hboo Senior Member

    Thank you very much, boozer.

    I always hear this expression "I'm in no position to judge." I always thought it meant when one wants to say they don't think they have the right to judge. I also think the expression "it's not my place to do something" means "I have no right to do something" too. This is why I'm confused with the meanings of the two expressions. Have I been wrong about the meanings? Thanks.
  4. boozer Senior Member

    No, 'I'm in no position to judge' can easily mean what you say.
  5. hboo Senior Member

    I'm more confused now. Now that it means what I say, it goes back to my original question: what's the difference then?
  6. boozer Senior Member

    Oh, sorry for confusing you. depending on context, 'I'm in no position to...' can mean 'I am unable to...', 'It is beyond me to...', 'I have no right to...' etc. Interpretation always depends on context. Generally, it tells me that you can't do it. 'It is not my place to...', on the other hand, tells me that you can do it, but you feel you shouldn't.
  7. velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    "It's not my place" means "if I were in a superior position, I could". Typically I could say "My boss is completely wrong about that, but it's not my place to point it out to him; I'm just the office junior".

    "I'm not in a position" or, more emphatically, "I'm in no position" to do something often means something quite different. For example, "He is a convicted bigamist; he's in no position to criticise me for having one lousy affair with my secretary."

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