None at all, nothing at all, not at all

yan_shams

Senior Member
Russian - Belarus
Hello,
Could you help me to differentiate the following expressions: none at all, nothing at all, not at all?
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Please use one of the phrases in a sentence, with some context, so we have a specific example to discuss. We'll be happy to help you decide whether you've used it appropriately.
     

    yan_shams

    Senior Member
    Russian - Belarus
    I'd be happy to do it, but that is the context I'm looking for :). I know that "not at all" can be used in contexts like these: not at all <-----Russian phrase removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->But I have a very vague idea of the contexts in which I could (or should) meet the first two. And maybe there are any other context for not at all similar to the none at all and nothing at all. They look very alike and confusing to me now.

    The thing is they are frequently used in the tests I do as the diversion of the mind from the right answer (I know that from the key answers :)). So the context is the problem.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The phrase at all simply intensifies the meaning of the word in front of it.
    So you are asking for the meanings of none or nothing, both of which can stand alone.
    For example: How many polar bears are there at the South Pole? Answer: None/None at all/Absolutely none.

    The phrase not at all means no.
    Are you angry?
    Answer: No/Not at all/Absolutely not.

    You should not find it difficult to ask a question to which the answer is Nothing.
     

    yan_shams

    Senior Member
    Russian - Belarus
    What happened? - Nothing/Nothing at all.

    Wasn't sure if the example above is natural enough, so decided to give another one:
    Is there anything in the fridge? - Nothing at all. Have I got it right?

    Thank you so much, e2efour! It looks so easy after your explanation!
     
    Last edited:

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Your sentence is fine.
    Interestingly, you could also answer No, although Not at all does not sound right to me. This suggests that No and Not at all are not always interchangeable.
     

    yan_shams

    Senior Member
    Russian - Belarus
    Thank you, e2efour. You've helped me a lot. I no longer perceive these phrases as idiomatic (except not at all) and now I see that the problem lay in the words no, not, nothing and none rather than in at all. I must confess I have some uncertainty about these words and your additional information proves that there is some complexity concerning them. But the good news is I know where to look now. :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top