Podcast: This is going nowhere

By Ana Luiza | Podcast Inglês Online

Jun 27
Inglês - Podcast This is going nowhere

Hi, everyone. No episódio de hoje, falo sobre idioms em inglês com as palavras anywhere e nowhere.


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So this episode centers around two expressions: one with the word “nowhere”, and the other one with the word “anywhere”. The expressions are “not going anywhere” and “going nowhere.” Examples: “I’m not going anywhere” and “This is going nowhere.” It is kinda interesting that ‘not going anywhere’ and ‘going nowhere’ have the same literal meaning, but are frequently used to mean different things.

First of all, notice that when we say “This is going nowhere”, this is a positive or affirmative statement and that is why we use the word nowhere. On the other hand, if we said “This is not going anywhere”, that would be a negative statement because of the verb in the negative form. A verb in the negative form calls for “anywhere.” It’s the same with nobody and anybody, for example. Listen to these examples: I saw nobody I knew last night; and I did not see anybody I knew last night. Or nothing and anything: I want nothing; I don’t want anything.

So, again, “This is going nowhere” and “This is not going anywhere” have the same literal meaning… They’re not always used in the same way though. Here’s what I mean: When people say that something is going nowhere, they mean that that thing isn’t really making progress. It’s not evolving; it’s not changing positively; it’s not producing the desired results. Example: Let’s say you have been involved in a research project for a year and things have been moving very slowly. One day, the research leader calls a meeting with the entire team and says “Everyone, it’s time we face the music. We’ve been working on this research for over a year with no significant results. The truth is, the research is going nowhere.” After one year, no progress has been made. There’s no reason to continue. The research is going nowhere.

Now listen to this: John started working in an office four years ago. He has had four different managers in that period. A while ago, he thought he had a shot at getting a promotion but then his manager quit and someone else got hired for the position John had his eye on. Now the new manager has announced budget cuts and more downsizing. John feels his career is going nowhere. No promotion in sight, budget cuts, four years doing the same job. He feels his career is going nowhere.

Now, you could also say “John’s career isn’t going anywhere.” But, honestly, when you say something isn’t going anywhere – that frequently means something else. Let me explain: Imagine your friend texts you saying she’s going through a pretty hard time. She wants to get together to talk. You guys meet up at a bar and have a chat. Your friend feels desolate: her mother is sick, she just lost her job, her boyfriend dumped her… You get the picture. You can tell your friend is down and needs your support. So you do your best to let her know that you’re there for her. You say “Mary, you’re going through a a pretty hard time but whatever you need, call me and I’ll do whatever I can to help. Remember you’re not alone. I’m not going anywhere.”

So when you say “I’m not going anywhere”, do you mean literally you’re not going anywhere? Not really. You’re not talking about going somewhere physically. What you’re saying is you’ll be there by her side, you’ll give her support, you will be there when she needs you, she can count on you. You say “I’m not going anywhere.”

Here’s another example: Let’s say your old boss now works for a different company and he wants to hire you. He knows you very well so he thinks you would be perfect as his assistant. However, you’re not thinking about leaving your current job so you tell him “Thanks, but it would be hard for me to leave my job now and blah blah blah.” But your boss still thinks you’d be perfect and he says “Well, the job is yours whenever you want it; it’s not going anywhere.” This job isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be here waiting for you.

Can you see how this expression communicates stability and even permanence? I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you need me. This job isn’t going anywhere. It’s yours whenever you want it. So tell me: Has anyone ever said something like that to you? “I’m not going anywhere”? Have you ever felt that there was something in your life that was going nowhere? Let me know in the comments and talk to you next time!



  • going nowhere
  • not going anywhere



It’s time we face the music = É hora de (a gente) encarar a realidade

he had a shot at = ele tinha uma chance de

the position John had his eye on = a posição que o John queria

downsizing = processo de cortar pessoal (em empresas)

in sight = à vista you get the picture = já deu pra você imaginar

you’re there for her = você está aí pro que der e vier



About the Author

Ana Luiza criou um blog de dicas de inglês em 2006, e depois de muito pesquisar o que faz alguém ganhar fluência numa segunda língua, criou seu primeiro curso de inglês em 2009.

  • Fabio Pinto says:

    These expressions are commons in portuguese, I already hear someone saying it for sure, but I don’t remember right now. However, it is always good to know new statements, words and expressions, they help to improve the english skills.
    Your text is pretty easy, clear and understandable. I really apreciate it.

  • Hello Ann, good weekend!
    Today is my time to give this kind of example: “The Brazilian team is gonna play this afternoon, so I’m not going anywhere, they can count on me. I will always cheer my country wins, of course.” :)
    See you later!

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