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Does ‘I’m interested in nothing’ make sense? I think it doesn’t make sense because ‘interested’ means ‘showing curiosity or concern about something or someone.’

I found the similar question, but according to this source I’m not confident what’s right.

Does 'I'm pregnant with nobody' have a contradiction?

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    It makes sense to me. The same way as "I am doing nothing" and "Nothing interests me" do. We just seem to have got accustomed to the "more common" "I'm not interested in anything" way of putting it. Apr 14 at 13:28
  • @Andrew Tobilko By the way, ‘nothing’ means ‘not anything,’ but how does ‘not’ modify noun ‘anything’?
    – user133899
    Apr 14 at 13:55
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    You could raise the same issue with many other verbs when connected to the word "nothing". For example, I know nothing (because ‘know’ implies ‘be aware of something'). Apr 14 at 15:44
  • Similarly "that is going nowhere" and "I spoke to nobody". Apr 15 at 12:43
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    It's ambiguous. It might mean "I am interested in the concept of nothingness" or "I am not interested in anything".
    – chepner
    Apr 15 at 14:17
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It is both grammatical and sensible, but out of context, it is not unambiguous. It could mean either of the following:

  • I am interested in the concept of nothingness.

  • I am not interested in anything.

Note that in the first case, “nothing” here actually is a “something” in the context of “showing curiosity or concern about something,” since it’s being used as shorthand for “the concept of nothingness.” The English word “nothing” can have that meaning.

In the second case, this is a very common usage of the word “nothing” in the English language—much more common than the first. English speakers very often say “X nothing” rather than “not X anything,” where X is some verb. “He saw nothing,” “she said nothing,” “I got nothing,” “Touch nothing,” and so on are all very common statements. In a sense, “nothing” here is being used almost literally as “no thing,” and the negation in “no thing” is replacing the “not” that would have negated the verb. But to English speakers, it’s just the more comfortable way to express that the action X has not been (will not be, should not be, etc.) applied to any objects. Certainly we can and do say “not X anything,” but “X nothing” is, I think, more common. (Note they are also rarely literal, “nothing” usually implies “none of the things relevant in context.”)

In any event, it is not mandatory to supply exceptions so that there is a “something” for “to be interested” to apply to. You certainly can, if that is the situation you want to describe, but there’s nothing wrong with the original formulation of the sentence.

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It is grammatically correct. That is, it is a complete sentence that communicates an idea.

You probably want to re-write it to make your meaning more clear.

A fundamental physics type might be "interested in nothing" in the sense of being interested in the nature of vacuum and cosmology and similar topics. For example, Lawrence Kraus has written the following book on the topic of "nothing."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Universe_from_Nothing

But you seem to be wanting to express lack of interest in everything apart from one specific person. You don't seem to want to express the idea that you have an interest directed at "nothing."

So you might try "I am only interested in you." Or possibly "I am interested in you and nothing else." Or possibly "no one else." Each of these communicate the idea of focused or singular interest. That is to compare to the idea of interest in nothing.

By the way, the tag "oxymoron" is not really correct. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxymoron

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    Outside of the cosmological meaning, this sentence could also be a warning sign of depression or other mental health problems - if there is nothing that captures "your" interest for long enough, that's not a good sign.
    – minnmass
    Apr 15 at 14:45
  • To cosmological I would add metaphysical. Apr 15 at 18:20
  • @rexkogitans To say that those interested in metaphysics are "interested in nothing" is, perhaps, slightly too harsh on the topic. :^)
    – puppetsock
    Apr 16 at 0:24
  • @puppetsock I think you got me wrong. Nothing as negation of any existing thing. Apr 16 at 4:53
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Yes, it makes sense. It means the same thing as "I am not interested in anything."

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    ‘Nothing’ means ‘not anything,’ but how does ‘not’ modify noun ‘anything’? or ‘not’ modifies a verb?
    – user133899
    Apr 14 at 14:00
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    "not" modifies "am interested"
    – Kevin
    Apr 14 at 14:05
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⚠️ You’re asking a question native English speakers won’t get

As you said, the word “interested” is defined as “showing curiosity or concern about something.” And “nothing” is, well, not a thing; which is against the very definition! That’s where your confusion arose.

You see, instead, you should think of the word “nothing” as a word with a grammatical feature that tweaks the meaning of the entire sentence (“predicate,” to be precise.). In English, a negative idea can be expressed not only by negating the verb, but also by negating the object. “I know” itself is positive, but with a negative object, such as “nothing,” the entire sentence can be negative without negating the verb: “I know nothing!”, which means, “I don’t know anything!

I can see where you’re coming from. Most native English (or other close languages) speakers find this natural, which probably is the reason why they don’t quite get your question, but some languages don’t have such a feature: you can’t negate the object in some languages. The Japanese and Korean languages, for instance.

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It does to a mathematician. The study of zero (nothing).

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