to do much of anything at all

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fadefade

Senior Member
Italian
I've read the phrase:"to do much of anything at all", in an article talking about direct and diffuse sun radiations.
And it was written:"Concentrated solar power, requires a lot of direct radiation to do much of anything at all."
So I understand the meaning of the phrase, but I was wondering is that an idiom to mean "It can't do anything"?

Thank you
Federica
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The sentence shouldn't have a comma:
    "Concentrated solar power requires a lot of direct radiation to do much of anything at all."

    It doesn't mean it doesn't do anything; it means that it needs a lot of direct radiation to do anything at all (even the smallest something) – if that makes sense.
     

    fadefade

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The sentence shouldn't have a comma:
    "Concentrated solar power requires a lot of direct radiation to do much of anything at all."

    It doesn't mean it doesn't do anything; it means that it needs a lot of direct radiation to do anything at all (even the smallest something) – if that makes sense.
    Thank you, yes It makes sense.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't quite agree with Copyright's answer (or possibly just the way he has worded it).
    To do 'anything at all' usually means very little. It is most often used in the negative: 'He didn't do anything at all' means he didn't do even a small amount.
    'Much of anything at all' means something less than 'anything at all'. Not much less, it is true ('much of' means quite a lot of), but 'anything at all' was pretty small to start with, so here we have something smaller.

    The quote says that it requires a lot of direct radiation to do even this little. There is nothing to say that below this level of radiation, concentrated solar power does nothing, just that it is no more than the tiniest amount.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    anything at all (even the smallest something)
    :thumbsup:

    I would say that “much of anything at all” is just an extension of “much at all”, which is itself an extension of “at all” (used mostly in negatives and questions).

    I’m so tired, I can’t concentrate on anything much at all right now
    His job doesn’t pay much at all
    There’s not much at all on TV tonight
    There was not much food in the shops – in fact, there was not much of anything at all

    NB: At all can sometimes be used in a positive sense:
    I would do anything at all for my children = There’s nothing at all that I wouldn’t do for my children
     

    fadefade

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I don't quite agree with Copyright's answer (or possibly just the way he has worded it).
    To do 'anything at all' usually means very little. It is most often used in the negative: 'He didn't do anything at all' means he didn't do even a small amount.
    'Much of anything at all' means something less than 'anything at all'. Not much less, it is true ('much of' means quite a lot of), but 'anything at all' was pretty small to start with, so here we have something smaller.

    The quote says that it requires a lot of direct radiation to do even this little. There is nothing to say that below this level of radiation, concentrated solar power does nothing, just that it is no more than the tiniest amount.
    Thank you for your explanation!
     

    fadefade

    Senior Member
    Italian
    :thumbsup:

    I would say that “much of anything at all” is just an extension of “much at all”, which is itself an extension of “at all” (used mostly in negatives and questions).

    I’m so tired, I can’t concentrate on anything much at all right now
    His job doesn’t pay much at all
    There’s not much at all on TV tonight
    There was not much food in the shops – in fact, there was not much of anything at all

    NB: At all can sometimes be used in a positive sense:
    I would do anything at all for my children = There’s nothing at all that I wouldn’t do for my children
    Thank you for your explanation and all the examples.
     
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