Could you care less, or couldn’t you?

I have a pet peeve. Well, I have more than one, but one stands out. It’s the misuse of certain phrases/expressions.

One in particular makes me crazy.

I could care less instead of I couldn’t care less

My blood pressure can’t take it… I hate when I see it written, and even more so when I hear it said out loud. I’ve actually heard characters on TV say ‘I could care less,’ instead of the correct version. I immediately want to throw something at the screen when I hear it. It just makes me crazy. Here’s what the dictionary has to say about the origin of the phrase:

The expression I could not care less originally meant ‘it would be impossible for me to care less than I do because I do not care at all’. It was originally a British saying and came to the US in the 1950s. It is senseless to transform it into the now-common I could care less. If you could care less, that means you care at least a little. The original is quite sarcastic and the other form is clearly nonsense. The inverted form I could care less was coined in the US and is found only here, recorded in print by 1966. The question is, something caused the negative to vanish even while the original form of the expression was still very much in vogue and available for comparison – so what was it? There are other American English expressions that have a similar sarcastic inversion of an apparent sense, such as Tell me about it!, which usually means ‘Don’t tell me about it, because I know all about it already’. The Yiddish I should be so lucky!, in which the real sense is often ‘I have no hope of being so lucky’, has a similar stress pattern with the same sarcastic inversion of meaning as does I could care less

http://dictionary.reference.com/help/faq/language/g09.html

So, if people can use ‘I should be so luck’, and ‘Tell me about it’ in the correct way, then why not ‘I couldn’t care less’? Maybe it’s because I spent so much time in the UK when I was a teenager, maybe it’s because when I was a child my grandmother always used to say ‘listen to what the words say’.  I don’t know. All I know is that I can’t stand it when I read or hear the term misused.

A close follow-up which I also don’t like is ‘Could of’ instead of ‘could have’, but that would be a whole other blog post!

Do you have any phrase or words you just hate seeing used the wrong way?

Advertisements

One thought on “Could you care less, or couldn’t you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s