I am having a discussion/conversation with a very close friend, and this conversation concerns me personally (you might even go as far as saying this is my best friend). At one point in our conversation he starts to "spam" (not literally, the messages have meaning and are well-formulated) me with many messages, but I really have nothing to say back (or anything useful to say back). I should clarify by saying that I completely understand what he is saying, and I somewhat agree with the things he said.

He then proceeds to send me another text saying: "Don't you have anything to comment?.."

How could I respond nicely with a proverb/saying of any kind that means "silence is sometimes better than speaking when one doesn't have anything useful to say"...

I know some sayings like "silence is gold" or "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt", but they don't really work for me in this scenario.

I hope I was clear enough. Thanks

  • 5
    The problem is that what you really want to say is probably more along the lines of Please stop sending stupid messages. They bore me. But you don't want to seem rude. Feb 1, 2016 at 13:11
  • 1
    Haha while this might be true, this is a very close friend so I want to stay nice. Also, he isn't usually like this, just this instance.
    – Idos
    Feb 1, 2016 at 13:12
  • I believe answers cannot be very focused unless you tell us a little more on the matter: does it concern him/you/personal acquaintances directly?
    – Joce
    Feb 1, 2016 at 15:32
  • Haha well it's actually my girlfriend. But I started with a "he" so I forgot to change everything else :)
    – Idos
    Feb 1, 2016 at 17:39
  • 1
    Before it gets to "Don't you have anything to comment?.." are you able to say something like "yep, definitely" or "haha, totes". It the equivalent of saying "lol" in a text without actually laughing or finding it funny.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Feb 1, 2016 at 19:12

13 Answers 13


You clearly state that you understand all that your friend has said, but the description of your level of agreement with the content of the messages is "somewhat" less clear. It's, therefore, not totally clear to me if your hesitation to respond comes, at least partially and/or subconciously, from your lack of total agreement with the messages.
Since you don’t fully agree with (the gist of) the messages you could respond hedgingly with:

I’ll just say that it looks like you’ve covered/touched all the bases and I have nothing more to add [at this time].

If you do agree with at least the important points mentioned by your friend, you could hedge a bit less with:

I think you’ve covered/touched all the bases quite nicely and there’s nothing more to add.”

"cover all the bases (American & Australian) also touch all the bases (American): to deal with every part of a situation or activity"

(from Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms via ‘The Free Dictionary by Farlex’)

(Granted, these responses are perhaps too polite, 'cause they'd probably be interpreted more as you complementing him on his thorough coverage of the subject than as you revealing your lack of interest/knowledge in/of the subject, but if you don't mind going full polite, they might work)

For an expression that relates solely to your silence without giving your friend the pleasure of thinking that he has “covered all the bases” (quite nicely or not) with his flurry of messages, you could simply:
Take/plead the Fifth

I take the Fifth
I take/plead the Fifth (Amendment)(American humorous): something that you say in order to tell someone you are not going to answer a question
Usage notes: The Fifth Amendment is the part of American law that says someone does not have to answer questions about themselves in a law court.

(again, from Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms via ‘The Free Dictionary by Farlex’)

I’ll take/plead the Fifth [on that] on the grounds that anything I say may jeopardize our friendship!

  • You can tone it down a little by replying, "No comment. You've got it covered."
    – Paul Rowe
    Feb 1, 2016 at 15:11
  • 3
    I think it's worth adding the answers here are very much American English phrases. I'd also add that I'm not a fan of these suggestions as they feel much too formal for the relationship the questioner describes they have. I also wonder if we're more dealing with the difficulty of expressing in words what would best be described with body language?
    – deed02392
    Feb 2, 2016 at 1:37
  • I agree, pleading the fifth wont be well known outside of America except maybe if people are familiar with it through media. Feb 2, 2016 at 10:43
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    @Idos Thanks! To try to address some of the good points made in the comments to my answer, here’s an ELU question/answers with some British alternatives to “Take/plead the Fifth” (the question’s accepted answer actually claims that there’s no equivalent but that “Take/plead the Fifth” would most likely be understood). For a non-baseball, perhaps more British version of “cover/touch all the bases,” perhaps “cover all the angles” would mean about the same thing.
    – Papa Poule
    Feb 2, 2016 at 19:43

Couldn't you just reply with what you just explained to us?

'I understand what you are saying, but I'm not sure what you expect me to say.'

'I see what you mean, but I don't know what to tell you.'

'I see where you are coming from, but I think you should talk to [whoever is more concerned with the problem.].'

'I get your frustration, but I'm not sure how to help you on this one. (Good luck).'

  • 2
    I think this may end the OP's relationship pretty quickly.
    – Casey
    Feb 1, 2016 at 21:33
  • I suppose it might, and whether you should say it like this is probably related to culture as well. I would think this is just very frank and people around me would appreciate the honesty. But I suppose there will also be a lot of people that would consider it rather blunt...
    – Renée
    Feb 21, 2016 at 18:35

I don't have anything to add.


You've said it all.

Those statements indicate what I believe you're trying to say: that your silence is because of a genuine lack of anything to add and not indicative of disagreement.

Most quips on silence are intended to convey disagreement or lack of input out of personal ignorance. That's why you're having trouble finding one to match your intention: because for your intention going after "silence" quotes is kinda barking up the wrong tree. That's not what they are usually intended to say.

But just for fun I'll include my favorite one anyway, from Frank Herbert: "Silence is often the best thing to say."


When I encounter this situation in conversation I reply "I'm just listening to/[or thinking about] what you're saying." It's neither a negative response nor a supportive response but I don't believe that I have to say something supportive in response to something I don't think merits it, regardless of how important the person is to me. I've never been pressed for further explanation but if I were, I would reply diplomatically about what they had said, not what I thought about it.


Alright, alright, alright

I'm not sure I follow you, but if I may, here's what came to mind..

"I am speechless. I am.. without speech"

But all nonsense aside, I can't think of a polite way out of this.

You should just tell them what you really have in mind. If you're too polite they won't stop. If you're rude, that's another story.

Keep it simple. Say that it was an interesting chat and that you've nothing more to add right now.

Say that you're collecting your thoughts.

It means to take time to think through an issue; to give some thought to a topic.

  • 1
    I like that Seinfeld reference. :)
    – URB
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:15
  • 2
    This answer is... gold :)
    – Idos
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:19
  • 1
    @idos Glad you liked it. Great! You make me feel great. I'm gonna hang back over here and collect my thoughts. ;)
    – NVZ
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:22

In a normal conversation there is normally some feedback even if its just looking like you are paying attention. You can show you are paying attention by occasionally sending a message such as "OK" or "Nods", I've seen this used in IMs. As to the challenge, to an extent you answer your own question in the title. You could add something before it like this, "I've been listening to what you say and I mainly agree. Don't really feel I have anything useful to add"


An expression many people are familiar with, usually as advice from our mothers or grandmothers, is "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all."

In some cases, "good" is replaced with "nice". The essence of the message is simple: Don't be negative.

If you search on this expression, you'll find lots of hits with people asking about it or quoting it. Apparently it was also used in the Disney movie, Bambi, as one of Thumper's bits of wisdom.

And here's an article from Elite Daily online that talks about this golden rule:

"Why If You Have Nothing Nice To Say, You Really Should Say Nothing"

  • "If you don't have anything good to say; then don't say anything at all.." Doesn't exactly apply to the scenario in question, as it's currently formed, but I have a feeling that this might be what the OP was trying to think of.
    – voices
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:50
  • Mama always said... A huge plus one! OP is getting trolled by their friend, and this is the proper polite response. ("Mama always said...", is what I'd text. If they don't know that quote, they're not my friend.)
    – Mazura
    Feb 1, 2016 at 21:41

As Socrates would say, I know that I know nothing


I am reminded of the words of Archidamidas, reported by Plutarch in Lycurgus:

He who knows how to speak, knows also when.

(Obviously, this is a translation.)


Ludwig Wittgenstein: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent (Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.)


Just say something asinine like "I know what you mean"

  • Actually, not bad advice. For texts, I believe this is the exact situation the thumbs-up emoji was created for. (or 100 for a stronger concurrence)
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 2, 2016 at 14:58

I don't believe there is a proverb that means “don't say anything if you largely agree with what is being said” or “What's the point in arguing if the other person is making sense?”.

The aim of a proverb is to impart wisdom in a short pithy statement; the majority of English proverbs derive from the Bible and Latin, so one needs to think of an instance or episode in history where the second conversationalist continued speaking (today's ‘texting’) echoing his or her partner's statements; or, for whatever reason, played the devil's advocate to see how far or how well he or she could defend their position.

However, proverbs also express succinct instances of common sense such as, patience is a virtue, so the OP could text: good things come to him/her who waits; implying that he will impart his pearls of wisdom at a later time; if indeed ever.


In a spoken conversation you would just nod or say 'uh-huh' or something along those lines. Do the same thing.

Send back a text that says 'alright', 'okay', 'gotcha' or something along those lines. Acknowledge that you are paying attention, and don't add anything.

  • I'm not sure it will give the right "vibe". If I rambled to someone and they said "ok" or "alright" back I'd be pretty pissed...
    – Idos
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:46
  • @Idos What? Really? Why? Does that bother you when people nod along in person?
    – DCShannon
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:48
  • You are right about being in person, but I am talking about a text conversation :)
    – Idos
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:49

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