I have encountered the construction nothing something in Crash Course US history.

Also, he once acted with a monkey and there is nothing “family values” about that.

Should no have been used there instead of nothing?

Explain that grammar for me please.


1 Answer 1


The pattern nothing [adjective phrase] about X is a colloquialism. It is a way of saying that the modifier does not apply to X.

The restaurant had a glass-enclosed veranda with the shades pulled down because of the sun. There was nothing al fresco about it.

The film was very tame. There was nothing "X-rated" about it.

The speaker in your example is tweaking the pattern by using the noun-phrase "family values" in place of an adjectival modifier. It is elliptical:

Acting with a monkey does not promote so-called "family values".

The adjectival modifier "[promoting] family values" is not applicable.

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