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Нечего – Ничего

  • Если тебе нечего сказать, ничего не говори! (If you have nothing to say, don’t say anything!)

You can see in this sentence that we are using the words нечего (nothing) and ничего (nothing). Let’s see the difference between them.

Нечего is a отрицательное местоимение (negative pronoun) and serves to point out the non existence of something. It is followed with a verb in the infinitive form.

  • Ему нечего делать (there is nothing to do for him).
    • Дальше нечего рассказывать (there is nothing more to tell).
      • Нечего происходить в этом городе (there is nothing happening in this town).

Ничего is a неопределённое местоимение (indefinite pronoun) and simply means nothing, anything. Here, the verb is conjugated.

      • Он ничего не сделал сегодня (he didn’t do anything today).
      • Он ничего не сказал о своей поездке в Москву (he didn’t say anything about his trip to Moscow).
      • Я больше ничего не вижу (I don’t see anything anymore).

If you look at the the two following examples:

      • Ему нечего делать (there is nothing to do for him).
      • Он ничего не сделал сегодня (he didn’t do anything today).

In the first sentence, the accent is put on the fact that there is nothing to do, it’s the “non existence” of something that is important.

In the second sentence, there are things to do, but he decided he would not do them.

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And maybe you already heard those expressions:

    • Нечего сказать! = indeed!; I must say!
    • Ничего себе! = not bad!
    • Как дела? – Ничего! = how are you? – so-so!; ok!