Not that I mind, but why didn't you phone yesterday?

Not that I mind, but why didn’t you phone yesterday?

Could you kindly parse the words “not that” here?
I think the full form may be like this:

It is not that I mind, but why didn’t you phone yesterday?

It = subject.
is = linking verb.
not = adverb.
that I mind = adjective clause.
that = relative pronoun.
I = subject.
mind = verb.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Screen:

When I saw your question yesterday, I was really excited because that “not that” phrase confuses me, so I was waiting for someone to answer, but since no one has so far, may I share a few thoughts? (These are not “answers.”)

  1. Congratulations! I believe that you have correctly identified the complete sentence.

a. On the Web, you will find many examples. Here are only two:

i. It is not that I care, but I was wondering why …" (said by someone in the Congress [parliament] of the United States).

ii. It is not, that I love you less
Than when before your feet I lay,
But to prevent the sad increase
Of hopeless love, I keep away.

(That beautiful poem was written hundreds of years ago by someone named Waller.) (By the way, one expert said that the comma after the word “not” IS correct because you should pause after that word. Nowadays, however, people do not seem to use the comma. And they do not pause, either, nowadays. If they DID pause, they might understand the meaning more clearly.)

I found your parsing of the words very interesting:

It = subject. (I agree with you. It is the formal subject. Some experts feel that “it” means nothing.)

is = verb. (I feel that “is” in this kind of sentence is not a linking verb. It does not link to anything. I feel that it is a full verb. It means something like “to exist.”)

not = adverb. (I agree with you.)

that I mind = (I feel that it is a noun clause. It is the real subject of the sentence. The formal subject “it” is only a substitute for the real subject that has been moved to the end of the sentence.)

that = I feel that it cannot be a relative pronoun. “I like the book that you have” has a relative pronoun because “that” relates (“relative”) to the noun “book.” But “that” in your sentence does not “relate” to any word. If I understand my books correctly, its job is just to introduce the noun clause “I mind.” Most books seem content to parse it as a conjunction.

I = subject of noun clause.
mind = verb of noun clause.

In researching this matter on the Web, I learned something that I had not known before: Some (some!) experts say that your sentence is a kind of CLEFT SENTENCE.

a. A cleft sentence emphasizes a part of a sentence. For example:
“Tom eats apples.”

i. It is TOM that eats apples. (Emphasizes “Tom.”)
ii. It is APPLES that Tom eats. (Emphasizes “apples.”)

b. Now which sentence emphasizes the negative more strongly?

i. I do not mind, but why didn’t you phone yesterday?
ii. It is NOT that I mind, but why didn’t you phone yesterday?

(I think that ii emphasizes the negative more strongly. What do you think?)


P.S. Please let me know if you disagree with any of my opinions.

Sources included: Wikipedia’s article on cleft sentences. / ELEMENTS OF ELOCUTION (published in the year 1799 by John Walker) in the “books” section of Google.

Thanks a lot, James.
I believe that you are correct. I need to go through it several times before asking any follow-on questions.

Hello again, James.

You have put lots of helpful information here. Here is my first question.

It is not that I mind, but why didn’t you phone yesterday?

I am not really sure why “is” isn’t a linking verb here. I remember that a linking verb is like an equal sign.
Because “is” is not a linking verb the following is not correct.

It = not that I mind

I would like to ask about the verb “is” in the sentences below.

  1. It is a table.

Is “it” a linking verb here?
It = a table

I tend to think that it is. However, according to your previous post it seems not.
“is” = “exist”

  1. It is you, isn’t it?
    I think that “it” isn’t a linking verb here because “it” is impossible equal to “you”.
    “it” is only used with things not people.

I am not confident at all and my reasoning seems not good. I’d like to be corrected.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Screen:

[4] That makes two of us, for I am NOT confident, either.

[3] “It is you.”

a. Most books would say that “is” there is a linking verb, or – as you said – an equals mark.

Tom knocks on door.
Mona: Who’s there?
Tom: It is me. (Or in “book English”: It is I.)

[2] You are spot-on. Definitely a linking verb.

[1] It is not that I mind, but why didn’t you phone me?

a. I understand your confusion. I am confused, too.
b. I believe, however, that it is not so simple as saying that

It = not that I mind.

c. Please remember that “it” is a substitute for “that I mind.”

d. In theory, you do not have to use “it.”

e. People would probably understand you if you said:

That I mind [subject] is not, but why didn’t you telephone me?

i. It means something like:

My minding does not exist, but why didn’t you telephone me?

f. Furthermore, remember that very old book that told us to pause (or use a comma) after “not”?

g. If you pause, I think that it brings out the idea very clearly that “not” does not actually belong to “that.”

i. It is not, [pause] that I mind, [pause] but why didn’t you telephone me. (In other words: That I mind + does not exist, but …")

Maybe I am right, but I was not able to explain clearly. Hopefully, another member will do a better job.

Maybe I am wrong, and another member will agree with you that the “is” is a linking verb.

Have a nice day and thanks for the original question. It really made me think and do some research.


Aha, I get it completely now. Thanks for great help. I am not familiar with the verb “to be” using as a full verb. It is really interesting.
I have a lot of questions and hope you can help again.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Many teachers give this famous example from Shakespeare:

“To be, or not to be: that is the question.”

(Something like: To live / exist or not to live / exist: that is the question.)