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What are the similarities and differences between 'to be nothing to ...' vs 'to have nothing to ...' ?


I have only heard has nothing to do with, never is nothing to do with, in AmE. Perhaps the is expression is primarily British (the article you cite is British).

However, this Ngram suggests that the is expression is rarely used even in BrE.

  • There you are wrong. I think you have not read the question. The question is: "What are the similarities and differences between "to be nothing to" vs "to have nothing to"? – Khan Oct 6 '14 at 5:26
  • @Khan: Did you look at the cited article or the quoted passage from it? In spite of the question's phrasing, it seems to me that the expressions being compared are in fact "has nothing to do with" and "is nothing to do with". – Drew Oct 6 '14 at 5:30
  • Drew, I am sorry. I should have looked at it in the context. – Khan Oct 6 '14 at 5:38
  • @Khan: No problem. – Drew Oct 6 '14 at 5:55
  • Drew, but it's a matter of grammar. – Khan Oct 6 '14 at 9:00

A woman is speaking on the phone about taking precipitate action. Her husband overhears part of the conversation, and thinks she is talking about rain (precipitation).

--It's going to be sunny, he says.

What we have been speaking of has nothing to do with the weather, she replies.

"To have nothing to do with X" means to be entirely unrelated to X.

A child overhears her parents speaking in hushed tones. She thinks they're going to be sending her to bed early.

-- It's nothing to do with you, says mother. We're talking about your brother.

Same meaning as "it has nothing to do with you."

EDIT: My treating "It's" in It's nothing to do with you as a contraction for "it is" has been challenged by Drew. I think in that locution the contraction stands for "it is", not "it has"; there is a variant that goes:

-- It's got nothing to do with you

where the contraction does mean "it has".

  • 2
    It has the same meaning because here it's is a contraction of it has. So you are essentially repeating yourself. – Drew Oct 6 '14 at 4:23
  • I (as a native speaker) have my doubts that "It's" in "It's nothing to do with you" is definitely a contraction for "it has". I suspect that there it is a contraction for "it is", and that "it" refers to "what we have been speaking about". How would you usually say (using contractions) 1) "She has two legs" and 2) "It has four legs" ? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 6 '14 at 11:37
  • Whether you are familiar with it is not really the question. It's is a contraction for both it is and it has. Few people (nowadays, if ever) would say It's four legs as a replacement for It has four legs. But that is beside the point. Many people say It's got nothing to do with you, just as many say It has got nothing to do with you (and It has nothing to do with you). – Drew Oct 6 '14 at 14:41
  • My question is how can you be certain that "it's" is a contraction here for "it has" when "it is" is a viable meaning? This has nothing to do with my familiarity or unfamiliarity. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 6 '14 at 15:24
  • OK, fair enough. There is no way to know whether it is a contraction for it is or it has, here. Perhaps I thought you had written It's got nothing... instead of It's nothing. But given the rarity of the use of It is nothing to do with (see my answer), I (personally) would still think of the contraction in It's nothing to do with as standing for it has. But yes, who's to say? If you had in fact written It's got nothing to do with then I would definitely argue that the contraction there stands for it has. – Drew Oct 6 '14 at 16:55

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