The English language contains a number of common idioms that people use on a fairly regular basis. In order to further expand a business, for example, someone may say that he needs to take his marketing efforts “to the next level.” If a particular television show is especially funny, it would be appropriate to say that it “had you in stitches.” When discussing financial matters, you are oftentimes told to “save for a rainy day.”

By the same accord, there are a number of sayings that are meant to express a certain lack of interest. A very common error that many people make when trying to express this sentiment is saying that they “could care less.” This is actually quite inaccurate and incorrect.

I Could Care Less

Think about the meaning of that statement for a moment. If you are trying to say that you do not care about something, then you may be trying to say that it may not be possible for you to have less care about that particular subject.

If you “could care less,” this implies that you do have a certain amount of care for the topic. It would mean that you do care, at least a little, and this goes directly against the meaning that you are trying to express through this saying. You could care less, because you have some care to spare. So, what is the proper form of this apathetic idiom?

I Couldn’t Care Less

Whereas the previous statement implies that you do care for the subject, this statement says that it is not possible for you to care less about the subject. You could not care less, because you are already at the absolute minimum (zero) level of caring. It is not possible to care less than not to care at all.

I couldn’t care less about the latest trends in Christmas tree design, because I am not getting a Christmas tree this year. In fact, I don’t think I have erected a proper tree in over a decade. That’s why I couldn’t care less. It is not within the realm of logical possibility for me to care less than I currently do and, thus, I could not care less.

But You Should Care More!

We all suffer from a certain level of apathy, because society is leading us to care more about superfluous things like cool new toys and care less about the things that matter most in life. Instead, it is perhaps more appropriate to care a little less about the latest holiday drink at Starbucks and to care a little more about helping your fellow man this holiday season.

National Philanthropy Day may have come and gone, but it is important to be charitable all year round. Ha! You didn’t think a Grammar 101 post was going to end on that note, did you?