Introduction to Grammar Guidelines

With texting, Facebook, and Twitter fast becoming main modes of communication, the new shorthand lingo that is developing will no doubt bring about a higher frequency of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. The rules that define proper English seem to fade into the distance as more people forget them and replace that knowledge with acronyms such as OMG and LOL. The hope for this site is to reinforce proper English grammar and continue to encourage eloquent writing and speech.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Could Care Less" vs. "Couldn't Care Less"

It is astounding the number of people who use the phrase "I could care less." Little do they know, they are saying the exact opposite of what they mean. If they really stop to think about it, they want to get across the point that they could NOT care less. In fact, they care so little that it isn't possible to be more indifferent.

Incorrect: could care less
Correct: couldn't care less


  1. This is another "nit-picky" post with the author over thinking the phrases. According to the Oxford English Dictionary(OED), couldn't care less and could care less mean exactly the same thing. Both are fairly new phrases in literature with "couldn't care less" appearing in 1946 and "could care less" appearing in 1966. Here are the entries of "couldn't care less"(d) and "could care less"(e) from the OED under the word "care":

    (d) Colloq. phr. (I, etc.) "couldn't care less" : (I am, etc.) completely uninterested, utterly indifferent; freq. as phr. used attrib. Hence couldn't-care-less-ness.

    1946 A. Phelps (title) ‘I couldn't care less.’
    1947 B. Marshall Red Danube vi. 53 The couldn't-care-less boys, the chaps who imagined that now that the war was over there was no need for further effort.
    1947 People 22 June 2/4 If I suggest that it should be good because the book was by a top-line author she simply couldn't care less.
    1955 Ess. in Crit. 5 76 Exhibiting a vulgar couldn't-carelessness.
    1957 F. King Man on Rock iv. 120 The phrase he most used was ‘I couldn't care less’: which seemed to sum up his character.
    1965 Times Lit Suppl. 25 Nov. 1083/1 The couldn't-care-less attitude of people with little to lose.

    (e) U.S. colloq. phr. (I, etc.) could care less = sense (c) above, with omission of negative.

    1966 Seattle Post-Intelligencer 1 Nov. 21/2 My husband is a lethargic, indecisive guy who drifts along from day to day. If a bill doesn't get paid he could care less.
    1973 Washington Post 5 Jan. b1/1 A few crusty-souled Republican senators who could care less about symbolic rewards.
    1978 J. Carroll Mortal Friends iii. iii. 281 ‘I hate sneaking past your servants in the morning.’ ‘They know, anyway. They could care less. Thornton mistreats them horribly.’

    So both are CORRECT and have the same sense according to the definitive English Dictionary in the world.

    1. I think I'll side with common sense over OED.