Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Could Care Less

I'm guessing my title for this blog irritates the crap out of about half the people in the English-speaking world.  (I mean, those who really think about how words are used and whether they're actually correct.)  The correct way to say the above is "I couldn't care less" - because if you don't care or care little, you really couldn't care less than you already do. 

And frankly, I could care less which way it's said.

Because that's the way I was raised to say it.  It's a normal phrase for me.  Sure, there are a lot things I was raised to believe/say/think that I've since changed.  Looking back, my father should've been famous for putting out statements as facts when he had no clue what he was talking about.  :shrug:  But I've decided I'm not changing this.  Saying "I couldn't care less" just feels wrong, and life's too short (and I'm too old) to quibble over that little phrase now.

So, how does this effect writing?

Personally, I think little things like this shouldn't be messed with - especially since any permutation of that statement could only be written as dialogue or from a first person POV.  If a character or your MC say it that way, it's their natural way of speaking.  (And just for grins, I've had characters say it the other way, too, because that's the way THEY were raised.)

It's these little quirks that make characters who they are.  Is it proper to say something like 'that's a whole 'nother issue'?  Nope.  But do real people talk that way?  Yup.  Personally, the word irregardless irritates me because it's a useless word that's pretty much used wrong every time I hear it.  But I'll use it to make my characters richer. 

I guess my point is, strange little quirks - when they're coming out of your MC's head or a character's mouth - make your story what it is.  On the other hand, coming from a narrator it just makes you look like you don't know proper grammar, but that's a story for another day.

What do you think?  How do you say the phrase and does how you say it come from knowing that it's the right way or from growing up saying it a certain way?  And what other little phrases / words can you think of that aren't quite grammatically correct but that are used in everyday life? 


  1. Agreed! In fact, one of my writerly BFFs and I were talking about this recently - some of the speech patterns, including poor grammar, are important to character development IMHO

  2. Well the phrase didn't bother me at all. And I agree with Christine!

  3. I agree that quirks are what make the characters more memorable. The most interesting characters keep me returning to certain books again and again!

  4. I like those little quirks that make a character memorable too. But in real life, some the mis-sayings would really bother me!