Pet Peeves: Could Care Less

Graphic of a number line from 0 (I couldn't care less) to 1 (I care a LOT)

​One of my pet peeves is people using the phrase I could care less.


The expression is I couldn’t care less.

And no, I don’t care that the could version is becoming common. It’s wrong. It’s lazy. Is it really that much harder to say or write couldn’t?

Every time I read I could care less, I’m thrown out of the story, snarl some curses, and only then return to my reading. If someone uses this in conversation, I have to bite my tongue not to correct them.

Not only that, I could care less makes no sense.

Think of it this way. You have a scale from 0 (Don’t care at ALL) to 1 (Care a LOT).

I couldn’t care less. That’s 0.

I could care less. That’s any number greater than 0. Because I could care less means there is a lower amount of caring on the scale.

Yes, I’m a math geek as well as a language geek.

Yes, I understand that sometimes language changes in ways that don’t make sense. But this is one phrase I’m never going to accept. And I couldn’t care less if that marks me as a complete grammar tyrant.