‘Could care less’ vs. ‘couldn’t care less’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

It’s always been a mystery to me why some people (especially Americans) say “I could care less”. If you “could care less”, you express indifferenceyou care somewhat, so you could care also less. You could perhaps care even more.

The point of the idiom is to express that you don’t care. In fact, you care so little that you couldn’t care less; you’ve already hit the bottom of how much care you give:

Oh, so he got arrested? I couldn’t care less. (correct)
Oh, so he got arrested? I could care less. (considered wrong by many; see below)

Some linguists suggest that “could care less” is so widespread that it should be considered an acceptable variant of “couldn’t care less”, but the fact is, many people consider “could care less” to be simply wrong and its use to be a sign of lack of education, so if you want to use the expression, it is better to stick to the variant with “not”, which is still more common and which most people find acceptable.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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