Listen to the author reading this blog post:
by Liz Walter
A very common way of showing that something is unimportant is to say that it doesn’t matter. This often implies that the thing you are talking about will not have any effect on anyone or anything else:
It doesn’t matter if you’re late because we have plenty of time.
Phrases such as Who cares?, I don’t care, or nobody cares are common and emphatic ways of saying that you don’t think that something is important. We might also say that we don’t give/care a damn or that something is no big deal/not a big deal:
‘I think we’ve upset Marion.’ ‘Who cares? She’s always being rude to us.’
He decided to move to Mexico and he didn’t give a damn about what his family thought.
I got fired but it’s not a big deal because I can easily get another job.
More formally, words such as trivial or petty indicate that something has little value or importance. Minor is a common word that is often used in contexts where it contrasts with more serious or major things of the same type:
Her boss would reprimand her, even for very trivial mistakes.
Most of the cases involved relatively petty crimes.
My assistant can deal with any minor problems.
Tourism plays a relatively insignificant role in the area’s economy.
They wasted time arguing over inconsequential details.
We use the rather formal adjectives peripheral or immaterial to say that something is unimportant because it is not relevant or central to the issue in question. Similarly, but more informally, we can say that something is beside the point or neither here nor there:
Her research was of peripheral interest to my own studies.
Whether or not she read the contract is immaterial to its legal status.
The paintings are valuable because of the artist – their quality is beside the point.
He’s perfect for the job and the fact that he’s my brother is neither here nor there.
I will finish with a nice idiom. If someone says they have bigger/other fish to fry, they mean that they have something more important to do or deal with:
The police weren’t interested in my stolen bike – they had bigger fish to fry.
If you can think of any other useful words or phrases connected with this topic, do put them in the comments!