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If someone asks help on a subject, and I am lacking in knowledge on it, which is appropriate or correct?

  1. I am really not into it
  2. I am not really into it

The intention is to convey that I am not well versed in this particular subject.

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11 Answers 11

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Suppose Chuck is really not into baseball. If you turn up baseball one more time in front of him, he just might hit you with the baseball bat!

Now, if Chuck were not really into baseball, you could still watch baseball in front of him—you could even take him to a game! He might leave as soon as something more interesting popped up, but at least he wouldn't hit you with the bat.

This question also has answers here.

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    That's all good and well, but why does Chuck have a baseball bat if he's really not into baseball? Dec 8 '20 at 9:08
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    @MaciejStachowski -- it's "all well and good," in BritE anyway! Dec 8 '20 at 10:38
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    @MaciejStachowski It's for people who ask silly questions :)
    – Barmar
    Dec 8 '20 at 15:27
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    In the UK, where baseball isn't a popular sport whatsoever, if someone has a baseball bat, they are statistically more likely to be a thug than a baseball player.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 8 '20 at 16:50
  • @Maciej Stachowski: Because baseball bats are useful for hitting things other than baseballs. Especially in Britain, where most defensive weapons are illegal. I understand sales of bats there far outnumber the sales of baseballs and baseball gloves.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 8 '20 at 17:40
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If all you are lacking is knowledge, then actually neither of those sentences is appropriate. Being "into" something, in this context, means being interested in it. For instance:

Q: "Will you help me with my calculus homework?"

A: "I'm not really into calculus."

That sounds like maybe I do know calculus (maybe it was required), but I don't like working with it, so I won't help you. Not quite the same.

But there is still the question of the difference between "not really into" and "really not into", and I would explain it like this. "Not really into" is "not (really into)". If you are really into something, then you like it a lot. So, if you're not really into it, then it's not the case that you like it a lot. Usually, that actually means that you dislike it more than you like it, but it softens the dislike.

On the other hand, "really not into" is "really (not into)". If you're not into something, then you don't like it, so if you're really not into it, then you really don't like it. It strengthens the dislike.

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If you want to be more polite, you would want to say

I am afraid I do not possess enough knowledge in the field in order to be able to help.

If you want to be less formal, you could say

I am sorry but this is not my strong point.

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  • Is it alright to use he word sorry for this? sorry sounds like as if you did something wrong Dec 7 '20 at 12:54
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    The sorry here means "sorry I cannot help, but this is not my strong point."
    – fev
    Dec 7 '20 at 18:56
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    Upvoted for suggesting phrases that actually express the intended meaning.
    – Llewellyn
    Dec 7 '20 at 21:33
  • @Ronitsharma In this situation, the "sorry" doesn't mean much at all, but leaving it out and just saying "This is not my strong point" or "I can't help you" sounds a bit rude.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 8 '20 at 16:52
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They mean slightly different things:

I'm not really into it -- It's not something I hate, but it doesn't really excite me either.

I'm really not into it -- I intensely dislike it.

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Idiomatically, I would use something like:

"I don't know enough about it to be able to help"

Your example phrases are expressing that you're not interested or don't enjoy the subject, not how knowledgeable you are in it. Perhaps you are mixing up "into it" (I enjoy or am interested in it) with "up with it" (I keep myself informed about it) or "on top of it" (I have a good understanding of the state of it)?

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EDIT: As addressed by Beejamin, the phrases I provided display a lack of interest. That can equate to expressing a lack of experience, but you requested a response for a specific situation, so I'll focus on that.

"Versed", as you already used in your sentence is a really good way of expressing lack of knowledge. However I think you're looking for something more flexible. In that case I recommend the expression: "Not my strong side"

"Not my strong side" expresses a lack of knowledge in a subject, but also that you're neutral on it (as far as interest goes). It can be used quite broadly in a variety of situations, but you must also address the specific area in which you lack knowledge.

Person A: Can you help me fix my roof?

Person B: Sorry, construction work isn't my strong side.

Person A: Hey, I've got a virus on my computer! Do you know how to remove it?

Person B: Sorry, computers aren't my strong side.


Original post:

I would recommend also using the idiom:

"It does nothing for me."

That expresses 0 interest in the subject but in a friendly manner. However it's best used in less formal situations. In a spoken conversation, you may often hear it with "really" at the end. The meaning is the same:

"It does nothing for me really"

Another way of expressing a lack of interest in a subject, but in a polite manner, would be by using "keen".

"I'm not too keen on it" or "I'm not really keen on it".

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  • I'd say that these phrases express that you don't enjoy or are not interested in the subject, not that you don't have experience or knowledge of them.
    – Beejamin
    Dec 8 '20 at 6:32
  • "I'm not really into it" or "I'm not into it really" express a lack of interest as well however. Not having particular interest in a subject pretty much conveys a lack of expertise in it. But, the original poster does address that he wants to express a lack of knowledge, so I'll edit the post to be more clear.
    – MetalSloth
    Dec 8 '20 at 10:58
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Use number 2. It will sound more polite.

Sentence 1 is an emphasis on you have no interest in it.
Definition A: truly, unquestionably

  1. "I am really not into it" = I am truly not into it.

Sentence 2 is a statement that you don't know much about it or you don't use it.
Definition B: in reality, actually.

  1. "I am not really into it" = In reality, I am not into it.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/really

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Several other answers have explained the difference in meaning between the two sentences, but it should also be made clear how the syntactical differences between them generate that difference in meaning. Really functions here as an emphasising device, rather than as conveying any precise information. In 'I am really not into it', really qualifies not and puts emphasis on it; the sentence is thus roughly equivalent to 'I am not into it', where not is uttered or printed with special emphasis. On the other hand, 'I am not really into it' is a negation of 'I am really into it'. One's purpose in negating it may be no more than to negate the emphasis that would be conveyed conveyed by really; the negation of that emphasis is compatible with one's being somewhat into it.

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It seems a straightforward application of don't and really in order. In "I'm really not into it" we start out not liking it, and then strengthen our dislike with the leading really (the Q linked by niamulbengali explains really-strengthening nicely). It's about the same as "I really hate camping".

In "I'm not really into it", we start with a strong really into it, and say that's not the case. We don't love it. It's similar to "I wouldn't eat there every day" or "It's not my first choice". Or consider "I really, really like Harry Styles, but I don't really, really, really like him like Heather does". really's after a don't weaken it. I like him a 10, but not an 11.

I feel that don't-really is commonly a way to be purposely vague. Your friend wants to go to a Hookah bar. That doesn't sound fun, but you don't want to simply say no. "I'm not really into Hookah bars" is a short way to say you'd like to consider something else, but will go if she's dead-set on it.

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Both are acceptable usage, but the former is more emphatic in my opinion. "I am really not into it" is a slightly more polite way to say "I don't like that", while "I am not really into it" is a slightly more polite way of saying "I'm not interested in that". If someone said to me, "Let's go to the movie theater and see that new horror flick everyone's talking about!" I might respond "I am really not into that" because I very very much DO NOT like horror movies. If on the other hand someone said, "Hey, wanna go to the theater and see the new kids movie everyone is talking about?" I might respond, "I am not really into it" because while I don't absolutely hate kids movies, unless I'm taking my kids to see it I can think of lots of things I'd rather do. And sometimes people will use these two interchangeably and you have to figure out the underlying interpretation from other simultaneous communications such as facial expressions, hand gestures, tone of voice, etc.

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I hope that this image can give a new interpretation to the problem, that may be a bit more clear that other non-graphical interpretations. I have created a line expressing different levels of being 'into it', where further to the left is less into it and further to the right is more into it. Not here acts as an 'operator' giving you all the parts of the line that are not part of the original statement (really into it is a subset of 'into it') and 'not into it' is anything that is not 'into it', the same holds for 'not really into it' - which is shown graphically with the blue line - signifies anything that it not 'really into it' and therefore much less extreme than 'really not into it' which is an extremised version of the already more extreme not 'into it'. enter image description here

Note that although saying 'not really into it' when you are 'really not into it' is technically correct, it would still be considered quite an understatement. 'Not really into it' is more generally used to describe lower levels of being into it that fall somehwere between 'into it' and 'not into it', this because saying 'not into it' would be too negative for the speakers need (it excludes all of 'into it') and 'not into it' would be too extreme too (because it excludes all of 'into it')

I would not be certain which is appropriate in your case since I am not well versed in either Ancient Egyptian or the national football (soccer) league, however for ancient egyptian I would say "I really don't know anything about that" and for the national soccer league I would say "I don't really know anything about that".

As you might have noticed from my lexicon, I am rather technically inclined and like putting concepts into easily categorizable boxes, if you prefer to understand language solely on an intuitive level then I encourage that you ignore this answer and don't bother too much trying to understand my jargon.

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