Ah, Anita, I can DEFINITELY answer this question.
YOU have been using it correctly.
It's "couldn't care less." And I couldn't care less if anyone disagrees with me :)
When we use that expression, we are trying to get across the point that we don't care at all.
If I say it wrong (I could care less), I'm telling the person that I still care, since there's room for me to care less.
If I say it correctly (I couldn't care less), I'm telling the person that I do not care at all. There is no room for me to care less; that's how much I do not care.
I know it's not the most important fact in the world, but it has been one of my pet peeves, hearing educated people say that incorrectly. There are 2 more that sort of drive me nuts. One is when people say "between you and I." The correct way is "between you and me," but I bet you knew that.
My husband hates to speak improper grammar, so he asks me when he's not sure. He asked how he could remember the last one I mentioned. I told him to make "you & me" plural (us) and "you & I" plural (we). Then I told him to use the word "between" with each plural word & let me know which one sounded correct. He said that it was easy: "between we" sounded stupid, and "between us" sounded right. So, I told him if he ever got confused again, just use that technique again.
No one speaks perfect grammar; that's understandable. However, when I hear it spoken incorrectly on TV, and I mean shows like the News, I get annoyed. These are people who are basically getting paid to speak. So, I feel they should get, at the very least, the fundamentals correct. Viewers often imitate what they hear on the News, assuming the reporters know the right way to speak. That used to be true, but for the past several years, I've noticed that things have changed.
They are not doing a good job.
They are not doing their jobs well.
Oh no, don't get me started on "good" and "well."
"couldn't" is correct.
Couldn't makes the logical sense since if you COULD care less, that means you care. This isn't exactly a grammatical issue as much as a simple logical one.
I could care less! you might say sometime in disgust. You might just as easily have said I couldn’t care less and meant the same thing! How can this be? When taken literally, the phrase I could care less means “I care more than I might,” rather than “I don’t care at all.” But the beauty of sarcasm is that it can turn meanings on their head, thus allowing could care less to work as an equivalent for couldn’t care less. Because of its sarcasm, could care less is more informal than its negative counterpart and may be open to misinterpretation when used in writing.
The phrases cannot but and can but present a similar case of a positive and a negative meaning the same thing.
couldn't care less is a double negative meaning that "you do care."
Could care less means "you do care less."
I couldn't care less is correct.
"Couldn't care less" is more gramatically correct. However, "could care less" may have more impact when properly emphasized...like with sarcasm exuding from your mouth.
Like when someone says "He's not fit to eat with pigs." I usually say, "He certainly is!"
I agree with you. "Could care less" sounds ignorant to me.
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