I don’t see that there’s much to go on.

Does it mean:

There is no reason to go on the discussion?

Or it means something else?

The fuller text is here:

It’s Ian who starts it, bluntly asking the attorney why he seems to be suggesting that Dana’s death might not have been an accident. [...]

“Very well,” David says, looking around at the rest of them, as if considering what to say. He takes a deep breath and exhales. “I don’t think that Dana’s death was an accident.” He pauses and adds, “In fact, I think she was pushed. And then I think her head was deliberately and forcefully smashed against the bottom stair.” [...]

“I think it’s a distinct possibility,” the attorney says crisply. Riley grips the arms of her chair tightly. She feels the tension build in the silent room; it’s palpable. Then Riley blurts out what they’re all thinking: “Did Matthew do it?” [...]

David turns to her and says, “I have no idea.” [...]

It seems to me,” Henry says, in his slightly pompous way, “that if this is a murder, it would be almost impossible to solve. It seems to have happened in the middle of the night. We were all asleep in our beds. There are no witnesses. Unless someone wants to confess, or share some helpful information about seeing someone creeping about in the night, I don’t see that there’s much to go on.

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

  • 2
    HI Peace, while we appreciate the context, the giant wall of text is a bit off-putting to some folks, You may attract a few more up-votes if you trim it down to just the parts that are relevant to your question.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2018 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


I don't see that there's much to go on.

In my opinion there are few clues and they are not very good ones.

I don't see much = I see rather little

not much to go on = little to serve as a basis for proceeding further.

P.S. As Darren remarks in the comment, the "prosodic" emphasis falls on the word go:

There's not much to on.

  • 1
    I think it's important to note this is generally pronounced by accenting the word "go" over the word "on", i.e. "I don't see that there's much to GO on". This is not really the same thing as the common phrase "to go on" meaning "to continue". Literally "not much to go on" is sort of a rephrasing of "not much [basis] on which we can go [forward]". Aug 24, 2018 at 19:21

Think of 'go' in a more general sense: There's not much to 'act' on. While they'd love to start investigating the mystery, the clues they have so far don't lend themselves to action on their part. A clue about a guy down the street we can track down and talk to? That's something to go on. The fact that the victim died at night? Unless you know someone who's third shift and wanders near where the victim was found, that information, while useful, is not actionable.

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