Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)
“I Could Care Less” About This Blog
by Jessica Whetham
There are many common phrases in the English language that are frequently used incorrectly. If you’re anything like me, you cringe and feel the urge to correct a person when they do so. I often pick my battles wisely and just bite my tongue. But, there have been times in the past that I have addressed the issue and it caused more problems than it was productive. My good friend in high school often said, “I could care less about [blah, blah, blah],” when it was clear that she should have been saying, “I couldn’t care less about [blah, blah, blah].” She had a horrible attitude towards whatever she was speaking about, and when she said she “could care less,” it implied there was more room for her to actually care less. If she would have been saying, “I couldn’t care less” about the issue, everyone would understand she had already cared as much as she possibly could and there was no more room for her to care any less.
Professor Paul Brians from Washington State University says, “’Could care less,’ whatever meaning you take it to have, does not have that crucial message of zero interest which gives the original saying its sting” (Brians, 2013). When a person is trying to express they really don’t care at all, they should be saying “I couldn’t care less,” rather than, “I could care less.”
Here is a visual to help explain this issue:
As you can see, when you say, “I couldn’t care less,” this means you don’t have any more room to care. When you say, “I could care less,” this means you still have some room to care, implying you still do care about whatever you may be talking about; hence, the title of this blog post.
This blog post is titled, “’I Could Care Less’ About This Blog.” This title was carefully considered, as I do care slightly care about this blog post. Here are some considerations of titles and why I selected the one I did.
“I Care About This Blog”
If I titled this blog, “I Care About This Blog,” it would imply this is something I may find myself doing for enjoyment in my free time. This, however, is not the case. I would not be spending my Saturday night on CSC English Department’s Blog Site doing this for fun, although it is much more enjoyable than expected.
“I Couldn’t Care Less About This Blog”
If I titled the blog, “I Couldn’t Care Less About This Blog,” it would imply that I do not care about this blog at all, so I probably would not be writing this post, voluntary or not.
I Could Care Less About This Blog
The title is, “I Could Care Less About This Blog,” because I do slightly care about this blog post. I am writing this blog because it is a required assignment for ENG 320 that Dr. Evertson will be issuing a grade for; however, I would not do this blog post just for fun.
So, to simplify everything that has been stated above:
Smallest amount of caring- “I couldn’t care less about [blah, blah, blah].”
Medium amount of caring- “I could care less about [blah, blah, blah].”
Largest amount of caring- “I care about [blah, blah, blah].”
So, next time you find yourself or someone else incorrectly using this phrase, please refer back to this blog. I couldn’t care less if this issue doesn’t bother you as much as it does me. I will really care, and will make sure you understand how much I care, if you incorrectly use this phrase around me.
Brains, Paul. (2013). “Common Errors in English Usage.” Washington State University. Retrieved from https://brians.wsu.edu/2016/05/31/could-care-less/
Jessica Whetham is in her fifth year of college studying Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. She attended Casper College in Casper, Wyoming for three years and is now attending Chadron State College to finish up her degrees. She was born in Chadron, then moved to Greybull, Wyoming when she was eleven. While it is nice to be back in a familiar area with family while attending school, she calls Greybull home–where, she hopes to obtain a teaching position.