Is it OK to say “I could care less”?

Aaron's English Page

A student recently asked the question, is it OK to say “I could care less”?  This phrase can be confusing to non-native English speakers, because when taken literally it means ‘I have the ability to care less’ or ‘I care to some degree’.  However,  any native English speaker knows that when a moody teenager mumbles this to their parents as they roll their eyes, the idea is clearly ‘I don’t care at all’. It is easily recognized as the phrase ‘I could not care less’ with the ‘not’ being excluded, as if to emphasis the lack of caring.

Although the question is not about where the phrase came from, it is worth noting that the dropping of a word in a phrase is a common occurrence in casual English.  It happens when something is awkward or a little difficult to say. It is the reason we use contractions in English.  For example, ‘don’t’ is easier and quicker to…

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