Not at all and nothing at all

What’s the difference between not at all and nothing at all?

Are they the same?

Thank you!!!

Tricky question. :slight_smile:

In all 3 cases (I added ‘none at all’ to the answer), the “…at all” is just for emphasis. Without “at all” the answer still means zero, but maybe you mean ‘almost’, or ‘usually’. Adding “at all” makes it more definite.

“not” is an adverb or adjective. So it’s describing something (even though it’s not in the phrase):
Walking/not walking, liking/not liking, blue/not blue, etc.

“Not at all” refers to degree

“Do you like peaches?”

  1. I love them!
  2. I like them.
  3. I don’t like them much.
  4. (I do) Not (like them) at all.

“nothing” is a pronoun. It’s not describing something. It is ‘the thing’ itself, which is oddly contradictory.
“Nothing at all” is a quantity.

“How much did you drink?”

  1. Two coffees
  2. ( I drank ) Nothing at all.

"none"is also a pronoun, but a little more specific. It refers to “nothing of that type”.

“How much coffee did you drink?”

  1. Two
  2. (I drank) none at all.
    (Answering “nothing at all” or “not at all” here would be strange.)

“Did you drink?”

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. Not at all. (Again, this is short for, “I did not drink at all”)
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If that’s too confusing: think of these statements…

I did not eat.
I ate nothing.
I ate none.

Very similar, but not quite the same.

Thanks a lot for clarifying.

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Consider these examples:
Did you have any problems? > None at all./ Not at all.
How much cake is left? > None at all.
Did I offend you? > Not at all.
Do you dislike her? > Not at all.
Are you angry with me? > Not at all.
Thanks for helping. > Not at all.
You’ve been so kind. > Not at all.