It's not like there's anything else to do.

Shouldn't the speaker say: "There's something else to do." ? so what's the meaning of the sentence and what's the difference between the two of them? Thank you,

  • 1
    From a related ELU answer, Any is a Negative Polarity Item, and thus requires a negative context... As John Lawler points out there, Did he eat any breakfast? and Did he eat some breakfast? are both valid, and near-equivalent in meaning. Same thing with anything / something in your exact example, or Is there anything / something I can do to help? Sep 6, 2018 at 17:08
  • @FumbleFingers I've read somewhere, that "Did he eat some breakfast?" implies that there was some breakfast, while "Did he eat any breakfast?" does not. Sep 6, 2018 at 17:15
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    some is used... • in affirmative sentences (sentences which are not negatives or questions) • in questions where we expect agreement or the answer 'Yes' • Didn't John's parents give him some money? (= I think/expect they did) • Hasn't there been some discussion about the proposal? (= I think/expect there has) Advanced Grammar in Use - Martin Hewings 1st ed. Sep 6, 2018 at 17:20
  • @Mv Log: I really think that distinction is clutching at straws. Both phrasings are equally credible regardless of whether the speaker knows anything at all about whether breakfast was "available" to him or not. And both can be forced to the sense of at least part of the breakfast he was presented with (if he's an invalid with no appetite, say), by placing stress on the chosen determiner (some or any). Sep 6, 2018 at 17:23
  • ...but they're obviously not always interchangeable: You'll certainly never hear Don't give me some lip, you cheeky boy! - it's always any in negated contexts like that. Sep 6, 2018 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


"It's not like" or "it's not as if" precede a deliberately false statement, to emphasise its falseness, e.g. "It's not like we have a choice" (we don't have a choice). The sentence could be related to a statement or question:

Why are we staying at work? It's not like there's anything else to do.

We should leave. It's not like there's anything else to do.

Often used for saying that something is not true and therefore it cannot be the explanation for someone’s behaviour:

I can’t understand why he disapproves of me. It’s not as if I’ve done anything wrong.

It's not as if


It's not like there is anything else to do is a negative sentence, meaning there is nothing else to do. Not anything = nothing There is something else to do is a positive sentence, it means the opposite of the first sentence, there is something else to do. You have a choice, an alternative.

  • Some of what you say might be true in other contexts, but using something instead of anything in OP's specific context makes little if any difference to the meaning. Sep 6, 2018 at 17:10

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