• 'Nothing is a puppy'
  • 'A puppy is nothing'

Can these two all mean there's no puppy?

2 Answers 2


No. These don't that there's no puppy. What they mean depends a little on context, and neither expression is common.

The first means the opposite of "Something is a puppy", or "Puppies don't exist". People aren't likely to say that because it's not true. Moreover the "don't exist" form is easier. So people say "Ghosts don't exist" instead of "Nothing is a ghost".

The second means "A puppy costs nothing, or is worth nothing". It is probably used hyperbolically.

I got my girlfriend a puppy for her birthday.
Hey, a puppy is nothing! I got my girlfriend a lion cub!

As you see it is not a common thing to say!

More common could be:

Nothing is important to me.

My ex-wife is nothing. I only love you!

There are other possible meanings, in context.


The short answer is no. 'Nothing is a puppy' does not mean 'A puppy is nothing'.

The word "nothing" in the first sentence and the word "nothing" in the second sentence mean two different things.

"Nothing is a puppy": The word "nothing" here is a pronoun and it means "Not anything; no single thing."

A puppy is nothing: The word "nothing" here is an adjective and it means "of no value".

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