is there any way to say that, for example:

You could do nothing

You could not do anything

I feel like there should be a similiar one to say what I mean, but what I've come up with ends up just meaning "you couldn't do anything".

  • 1
    Are you trying to say, "You didn't have to do anything"?
    – Jim
    Nov 22, 2014 at 2:56
  • 1
    It seems like the poster is trying to say you have the option to do something or to do nothing, it's up to you to choose. If that's the case, I would say "You may (or could) choose to do nothing." I would need more context to decide if may or could is better though.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 22, 2014 at 3:51
  • That is what I mean, you have the option to do something or not. I think "You may choose to do nothing" is the best answer I'll get. I just thought there would be another construction more similiar to the phrases I gave. Since the phrase didn't come naturally for me, I ended up translating from my native language, which then sounded odd.Thanks though. Nov 22, 2014 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


You can do nothing. (Needs context for clarity.)

You can/may [verb]. (May need context for clarity.)

You don't need/have to do anything.

You need do nothing.

You needn't do anything.

You can [optional verb phrase], but you don't need/have to.

It's not necessary to do anything.

You can [verb phrase] or not.

[verb-ing] is [possible but] not required.

It's possible/ok [to + verb] [, but not needed/necessary/required].

____ is optional.

I can think of many more alternatives. We can also communicate information about whether some possible act is suggested, desireable, discouraged, prohibited, easy, difficult, etc.

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