Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question from Jesús, from Spain, about the difference between “never mind” and “it doesn’t matter.”
My name is Jesús, and I find the use of "never mind" and "it doesn't matter" sometimes confusing, could you clear it up for me, please?
Thank you from Spain.
Thank you for your question. We will start with the expression “never mind.”
Often, we use “never mind” as an imperative or command form to tell someone to leave a subject or topic alone. This is especially true if a request is not fulfilled or a question is left unanswered.
For example, if you have a question like:
Can you help me put away the groceries?
And it goes unanswered. You can reply:
Never mind, I will do it without you.
In this exchange, “never mind” is used as a command to mean “ignore what was just asked or said.”
Another way we can use “never mind” is as a conjunction, a part of speech that joins together two ideas, clauses or sentences. When used as a conjunction, “never mind” connects two options, the second option being the least likely or wanted.
I do not like traveling to work. There are too many people on the bus, never mind that it takes 45 minutes to get there.
In this sentence, “never mind” acts the same as another conjunction, “in addition.” In the above example, the second option is expressed as the worst part of traveling to work.
“It doesn’t matter” means that the subject or issue is not important.
We can reword the sentence to understand it better:
It does not matter (to me).
The verb “matter” means to be of importance. So when we say, “it doesn’t matter” we are saying “this issue or subject is not important.”
For example, if we are given a choice between two things, and we say “it doesn’t matter,” we are saying that either choice is acceptable.
Do you want coffee or tea?
It doesn’t matter.
Here we are saying that the choices are unimportant and we could enjoy either coffee or tea.
Sometimes, both of these expressions can be combined, as follows:
Never mind, it doesn’t matter.
This sentence demonstrates our lack of interest in the subject and expresses that we do not care to talk about the situation any further.
Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Jesús!
What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And that’s Ask a Teacher.
I’m Faith Pirlo.
And I’m Jill Robbins.
Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.
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Words in This Story
confusing – adj. something uncertain or unable to understand
groceries – n. goods bought to be used in the home such as food and cleaning product
option – n. a choice