Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Today I was told that "I give nothing to..." cannot be used as "nothing" does not exist and so I cannot give it. But don't you often say "I have nothing to do"? How come that in this case it works, how can you have "nothing" to do? And one additional one, "I have no idea" is correct, what about "I do not have any idea"? Imho this is correct too, right? Thanks

share|improve this question

closed as not a real question by JSBձոգչ, kiamlaluno, Matt Эллен, Mahnax, MετάEd Aug 29 '12 at 6:48

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2  
You'll surely have noticed that the answer telling you that was massively downvoted (-5, as I write). My answer (currently +5) said there was nothing wrong with any of these variations (except you should avoid "double negatives" in formal contexts). Do you really need to ask what is effectively the same question, just to confirm what you've already been told? –  FumbleFingers Mar 1 '12 at 1:00

2 Answers 2

You have been misinformed. It's perfectly grammatical to "give nothing", just as to "have nothing", "love nobody", "want nothing" or "go nowhere", etc.

share|improve this answer
    
Hmm so I can say "I give nothing to nobody"? I want to say "I do not give anything to anybody". –  Pietro Feb 29 '12 at 22:10
    
That's a question of double negatives which is a whole another story. You should start another thread for that, I believe. –  RiMMER Feb 29 '12 at 22:14
1  
Oh, yes you are right. So what about "I give nothing to you". Is that correct? I would say "I do not give you anything" but I want to understand whether or not the first one is possible. –  Pietro Feb 29 '12 at 22:27
    
Both are correct and equally possible. You would choose depending on the previous context. –  RiMMER Feb 29 '12 at 23:04
1  
"I give nothing to you" is possible, but I think it's less common than "I give you nothing". –  user16269 Mar 1 '12 at 0:19

I think it is easy if you read nothing as 'no thing(s)', where thing can also be I have no thing(s) (or tasks) to do.

share|improve this answer

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