I Could Care Less or I Couldn't Care Less?

Author:
Publish date:

Q: Every time I say, "I could care less," my husband stops me and says, "It's 'I couldn't care less.'" But everyone I know says it the same way I do. Which is correct?—Anonymous

A: For years, my grandma beat "I couldn't care less" into my head just as often as she made me eat my dinner vegetables. And just like broccoli, her grammar correction always left a bad taste in my mouth. But was she right?

When taken literally, the two phrases have opposite meanings. "I couldn't care less" means that it's impossible for me to care any less about the subject at hand than I already do. If I say, "I couldn't care less about hockey," I mean that on a scale of one to 10—with 10 suggesting that I'm the most enthusiastic hockey fan this side of Canada, and one meaning I don't give a flip about the sport—I'm a one. I don't care about hockey at all.

On the other hand, "I could care less" literally means "I care more than I might seem to." If you could care less, you're saying that you care some, which is the opposite of not caring at all.
Now, some folks will argue that "could care less" is intended to be sarcastic and therefore shouldn't be taken literally. But it's hard to convey that in print, so it just looks like unpolished writing.

Stick with "I couldn't care less."

Want more?

Image placeholder title
Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 27

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write something that makes you laugh.

Poetic Forms

Ars Poetica: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ars poetica and the art of writing poems about poems.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 26

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about an article of clothing.

Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 authors share tips on writing mystery and thriller novels that readers love, covering topics related to building suspense, inserting humor, crafting incredible villains, and figuring out the time of death.

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Debut author Jaclyn Goldis explains how her novel When We Were Young was inspired by her real-life grandmothers and how many times she rewrote her first chapter.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, force a character to make a decision.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 25

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about a cryptid.

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Bestselling author Erika Robuck provides her top 7 tips for creating an engaging historical fiction novel.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 559

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a short poem.