Last week my mom, Donna McDonald—a regular reader and fan of this blog—asked me if she could write something for it. Since she's the biggest reason I love English and grammar so much, I immediately said yes. If you want to write about something—an expression that bothers you, misspellings that make your stomach churn, or a lesson in commonly misused English grammar—email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll put it up and we'll all learn something.
Thanks again to Donna McDonald for this contribution, and for the rest of you—enjoy!
Brace yourself for what you’re about to read.
I could care less about my kids.
I could care less about my husband, my parents and my friends.
I know this makes me sound like a sociopath, but it’s the truth. I really, really could care less about my loved ones. That’s because I'm a stickler for the proper use of language.
Allow me to clarify.
The word “could” indicates possibility.
We could purchase a badger for Grandma for Christmas.
This means that a) you have access to a retail badger, and b) you have the funds available to afford it. Therefore, it is possible to present Grandma with a craftily wrapped badger on December 25.
The word “couldn't” indicates impossibility.
We couldn't buy Grandma a badger because all the stores only have wolverines.
By stating you “could” care less, it means you must care a little bit.
If I tell you I couldn't have less money in my wallet, it means there is literally NO money in my wallet (I spent it all on that badger for Grandma). It's not possible to have less than absolutely none.
If I tell you I could have less money in my wallet, it means I still have some change from the badger purchase.
I could have less money in my wallet – I have some money.
I could care less – I have some care.
If you really, really want to express your disinterest, saying you COULD care less is a dumb way of doing it. It means you DO care, at least a little bit.
So, I love my kids more than anything in the world. I love my husband, my parents and my friends.
I could definitely care less about the people in my life.
I couldn't care less which stores are selling badgers for Christmas this year.