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For the context, a character is going to attack an unsuspecting enemy, who just woke up and:

"What happened?" he articulated at last.

"Never mind what happened. It isn't a circumstance to what's going to happen now.

What does the " It isn't a circumstance to" phrase mean? Does express something like "it is nothing compared to.."?

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  • Can you edit your question to explain where you heard or read this? It sounds wrong to me.
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 1, 2020 at 7:29
  • @JavaLatte It is an old tale (1930 or so). The phrase is certainly correct, I can Google it in other, often older, texts. eldritchdark.com/writings/short-stories/146
    – John V
    Aug 1, 2020 at 7:54

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Cambridge dictionary defines a circumstance as "a fact or event that makes a situation the way it is": literally, it means things that are standing around a particular situation. Halpin's question refers to what has just happened (the transfer to the fourth dimension). The protagonist's reply is probably intended to indicate that the transfer is irrelevant to what is about to happen (the protagonist murdering Halpin).

It's certainly a very unusual usage of the word: firstly because we normally talk about "circumstances of" rather than "circumstances to": and secondly because we generally use it only about things that happened in the past, or about hypothetical future situations- we don't tend to use it for planned future events.

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