English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I came across a quote today, it is,

As a person it's what's on the inside that counts. It's what's on the outside that matters.

Please explain the quote for me. Are count and matter opposites?

share|improve this question

In fact in this case, count and matter are actually synonyms.

count verb

3 [no object] be significant:
it did not matter what the audience thought—it was the critics that counted

matter verb [no object]

1 [usually with negative or in questions] be important or significant:
it doesn’t matter what the guests wear

Both from ODO

Both mean “is significant”.

However, I suspect that your quote is wrong, and it should be

As a person it's what's on the inside that counts. What's on the outside doesn't matter.

That is, it's someone's heart and intentions which are important, not what they seem to be.

share|improve this answer
Or - what is on the inside is worthwhile to the world, but what is on the outside is what people care about – mplungjan Mar 18 '13 at 14:02
@mplungjan It seems I'm just not cynical enough! – St John of the Cross Mar 18 '13 at 14:09

In this example count and matter are synonyms. This is just a way of saying that they both count/matter, and lets the reader make his pick according to his principles :)

share|improve this answer

"count" and "matter" are synonyms and mean "is significant.

Regarding this quote "count" would mean for me: - Based on your personality people can "count" on you or not. It´s significant for a relationship that people can "count" on you, and they usually "count" this invisible values like realiability, loyalty, etc. . If you are not there for somebody, this person might not be there for you in the long run (as it is the inside what counts)

"matter" would mean for me: Your apperance, body language, gestures, clothing is the matter, "subject", "substance", everyone will observe and judge. Everyone is superficial (some people are more tolerant). If somebody looks like a wreck her appearance could result in backbiting. Which person would you like to date: 1) a person who is beautiful for you 2) the ugly duck. If you choose 1): It´s the outside what matters for you.

If you choose 2): It´s the inside that counts for you.

But I believe that you are like me, so: As a person it's what's on the inside that counts and it's what's on the outside that matters for you.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.