"There's no telling": An "-ing" verb after "there is no" as a way of expressing the idea of the impossibility of an action

4

There is an expression "there's no telling" and a proverb "There's no accounting for taste", the meanings being clearly explained here and here.

My question is this:

Is there any particular grammar rule for this ("there's no" + an "-ing" verb) construction, for hard as I tried, the only explanation I did find was in the entry "No" in here.

Would it be right to say that this construction may be used to express the idea of the impossibility of an action, for example:

There's no making her change her mind.

There's no persuading him into selling his old car.

There's no beating him at tennis.

There was no denying that she had a lovely figure?

Victor B.

Posted 2016-12-12T14:55:26.490

Reputation: 8 293

3I have taken the liberty of changing your third example, "There's no winning him at tennis"--this is ungrammatical because win does not take the defeated party as object, but that error is not relevant to your question. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-12-12T15:07:58.280

3Your example #3 should be *There's no beating him at tennis* (idiomatically, winning doesn't work like that). Other than that, they're all perfectly grammatical, but in practice #1 would usually be There's no changing her mind, and #2 would be There's no persuading him to sell his old car. But apart from the well-established idiomatic usage There's no denying [that] [uncontested assertion], they're all a bit "affected" in modern conversational contexts. And the whole construction is effectively informal, so it should be used with care. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-12-12T15:08:27.117

@FumbleFingers: Thank you very much for highly informative notes. – Victor B. – 2016-12-12T15:16:02.237

Answers

4

Depending on context, the construction

There's no "-ing"

can either mean the impossibility or the prohibition of an action

There's no winning in tennis against him.
it's impossible to beat him in tennis

There's no talking in the library.
one is not allowed to talk in the library

Peter

Posted 2016-12-12T14:55:26.490

Reputation: 63 575

2To me, these two meanings have a very different feel: the prohibition seems literal (there might be a sign up saying "No talking!", whereas the impossibility is an idiom, and is much happier with certain verbs ("telling", "persuading", "talking to", "denying", "stopping", "holding", that I can think of) that with any others. Most of these are about making somebody do or not do something. – Colin Fine – 2016-12-12T19:00:56.853