Here is the quote from series "Sherlock" s04e01:

— You say he filmed that video message before he died?

— Yes.

— You also say you know what he's going to do next. What does that mean?

(Another person:)

— Perhaps that's all there is to it. Perhaps he was just trying to frighten you.

Does that generally mean "that's all/that's finished"?

If yes, then what is the purpose of the second part of this sentence ("there is to it")?

And maybe I misunderstand it completely. The subtitles didn't contain any punctuation marks, that's also confusing. Could you explain this phrase in pieces, please?

Thank you

  • I forgot to indicate that the last remark was uttered by a third person (who apparently made the assumption). (That's why I have made an edition) But there is no much significance I suppose. – Cocoruzzy Jun 25 '19 at 12:15

"All that there is to it" means "All that goes into making it" - here in the sense of "all that it amounts to" or "all the substance in it".

So "That's all that there is to it" means "There is nothing else to it" or "there is no nothing further to be found in it". Here probably "There is no further explanation or significance to it".

The only other use of the idiom that I can think of is "There's nothing to it", meaning that there is no significance, or substance, or difficulty, to whatever it is.

  • We'd usually use in, but (There's) some truth to what (he says) is fairly common. – FumbleFingers Jun 23 '19 at 17:39
  • Would it be a mistake to say "That's all that is to it" (without "there")? – Cocoruzzy Jun 25 '19 at 17:27
  • Yes, that would sound strange and non-idiomatic, @Cocoruzzy – Colin Fine Jun 25 '19 at 17:35
  • Thanks, it became clearer thanks to you. I have one more question. In the sentence "All that there is to it", is "that" a conjunction (not a pronoun)? And in the phrase "That's all there is to it" I guess "that" is pronoun, isn't it? It is confusing a bit. I.e., in these two sentences the word "that" is not the same and does not flow from one to another, am I right? – Cocoruzzy Jun 25 '19 at 18:57
  • @Cocoruzzy: That's right. "That" is a subordinator in ".. all that there is to it", and may be omitted. "That" is a pronoun in "That's all there is to it". – Colin Fine Jun 25 '19 at 19:48

"to" is highly idiomatic there, and means something like "in relation to".

"that's all there is to it" means that there's nothing else that can be added in relation to that (whatever "that" is). The speaker admits that that is all he/she knows about it.

The sentence can be interpreted as coming from "there is nothing else to be added to it". If there is nothing else, then "that's all there is (in relation) to it".


When explaining a simple procedure, or telling a simple story, you can say "That's all there is to it" when you're done, which means, "We're done. Wasn't that simple?"

Here it means, "Perhaps there's nothing more to the story (the story has ended). Perhaps he's simply dead and there's nothing else going on."

Also see:

"there's not much to it" = "it's pretty simple"

"(there's) nothing to it" = "it's very simple"

"there's a lot to it" = "it's complicated"

"there's much more to it than that" = "it's more complicated than that"

  • Thanks for the answer! Why is "there's" in the second phrase bracketed? – Cocoruzzy Jun 25 '19 at 22:45
  • You can say "there's nothing to it" or simply "nothing to it!" – pfalstad Jun 26 '19 at 20:14

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