I would use "idea".
Interested in Language
Is possible to say "I have no conception what he is doing there" instead of "I have no idea what is doing there" or "We had no conception what was in store for us" instead of "We had no idea what was in store for us"?
Thank you very much
I've found "have no conception of something" here: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/d...n-of-something
But I agree with Mike - it doesn't seem to fit your context.
No "concept" might be a bit more interchangeable with "idea" but "conception"? No.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
I think that "conception" in this context means "understanding", and we nowadays use the word "idea" instead.
"Conception" used in this manner probably went out of fashion in BrE around the 1940s or 1950s. It reminds me of Victorian writers, but would have continued to be used in this way probably up to the time of Agatha Christie. I can easily imagine her using it in one her Poirot or Miss Marple novels.
As Mike pointed out that was a long time ago and this usage is archaic now.
(BrE first language speaker.)
I think Conception means Understanding- yes: more than Idea. Idea/ I have no idea is usually (in BrE) a way of emphasising "I don't know".
I've been thinking about this one for a day or two. Imagine you are watching a tutor, say , repairing a computer. As you watch you are supposed to follow and understand so you can do it too. You are puzzled so you say " I have no conception of what he's doing" It means no understanding, but also no imagination; no picture in your mind of what is going on and the reasons for his actions.
I don't think it's as obsolete in BrE as others might say. But, I agree- you're more likely to say concept. !! (but it still means something quite different from the common usage of "I have no idea".
I think the usage of "conception" may be restricted to certain regions or social groupings. I can well imagine a group of university academics still using it quite happily, and easily understanding each other. However, most of the other people I know would use "I have no idea" or "I have absolutely no idea" instead, even in the example you gave.
I think the problem is that people may not be able to understand how the tutor is repairing the computer, but they do understand the ideas of what a computer is and what it does, and also the idea of what repairing something means. So they can imagine it being repaired: they just don't know how to do it.
This example sums up the usage you mention well:
"The common throng had no conception of his problems; all of them thought being a dictator was the end-all." (meaning 2.2)
Who other than a dictator could have any knowledge, understanding or imagining of the problems or challenges a dictator might face, other than another dictator or one of his supporters: and then they wouldn't be part of the common throng.
So there may still be a use for it in BrE, but it is just very restricted.
(BrE first language speaker.)