11 Commonly Used Phrases That Mean Absolutely Nothing


It’s frightening how many of our conversations would mean the exact same thing if they were about half as long. And it’s not just “um”s and “like”s wasting our time; the English language is full of entire phrases that serve no purpose other than to fill silence. Can you think of any instance when we actually need these phrases?

1. “We’ll go forward from there.”

Example: “So why don’t you send us the documents and we’ll go forward from there?”

Given that nobody has figured out time travel yet, there are no alternatives, so yes, we will go forward.

2. “I’m just saying.”

Example: “It might not be the worst thing to dress a bit more professionally. I’m just saying.”

I knew you were just saying it the moment you just said it. No explanation needed.

3. “It is what it is.”

Example: “We lost the game in the third quarter, but it is what it is.”

That is, in fact, what it is. There is literally nothing that is not what it is. You have just conveyed nothing.

4. “I like to have fun.”

Example (usually in an online dating profile): “I like to have fun and am looking for someone similar.”

Who doesn’t? Fun is by definition something you like. You sound like you have no hobbies.

5. “Life goes on.”

Example: “We didn’t get the deal, but life goes on.”

There is one instance in which this statement is false: when you are on your deathbed. Otherwise, it is a given that our lives are in fact continuing.

6. “Can I ask you a question?”

Example: “Can I ask you a question? When’s the next train?”

Well, you just did, so…

7. “Let’s start at the beginning.”

Example: “Let’s start at the beginning then go forward from there.”

See #1. Time travel is not a thing yet. So, we’ve assumed as much.

8. “In my opinion…”

Example: “In my opinion, he’s not worth your time.”

Definitely let me know if you’re stating someone else’s opinion. Otherwise, I’ll assume you’re expressing your own.

9. “All things considered…”

Example: “All things considered, I think this would be the right move for our company.”

Are you usually only considering some things? Now you’re scaring me.

10. “It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”

Example: “He’s lagging behind in the polls, but it’s not over ‘til it’s over.”

Can you think of anything that was over before it was over?

11. “What’s done is done.”

Example: “I wish you had asked my permission first, but what’s done is done.”

Good observation. Silly me, trying to do things that were done. Thanks for reminding me that this predicament was hopeless.