Nothing in particular. & Nothing special

A: What did you want?
B: Oh, nothing in particular.

A: How was class today?
B: Nothing special.

I’m a little confused about “nothing in particular” and “nothing special”.
They’re similar. Are they interchangeable in the two examples above?

Thank you!!!

Not interchangeable. “Nothing in particular” means “there is/was nothing specific.” “Nothing special” means “there is/was nothing memorable/noteworthy.” For the first response, you could reply with “nothing” alone and it would make sense. However, in the second response, you could not reply with “nothing.” That would seem wrong. You could, however, reply with “special,” and that would work (though most English speakers wouldn’t say it like that).

Put another way, the “in particular” part modifies “nothing”, and implies that the person may be open to “something,” but has nothing in mind at this time. On the other hand, the “special” part does not modify “nothing” - “nothing” modifies it, saying that there was no “special” thing about it.

I hope that makes sense.

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No, they are not interchangeable. The first situation I think is much more likely to come up in the way people talk to one another.

In the the first example, say a person seeing they have a missed called from a friend, they might ask one of several variants of the same question: What did you want? Why did you want to talk to me? What were you calling about?

The original caller might say so “Oh, nothing in particular. I missed you and I was just calling to chat.” Meaning that there was no specific reason for the person making the call.

In your second example, “How was class today?” The person responding is saying “Nothing special” because they are saying “Nothing special HAPPENED.” It was like anything other day. It was the usual day.

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