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    #1

    Can "can't" replace "couldn't" here? What does "I couldn't care less" mean?

    Hi,

    I'd like to know if "can't" can replace "couldn't" in the following sentences. Could you please help me with them?

    1. I can't agree more. ?← (I couldn't agree more.)
    2. I can't be happier. ?← (I couldn't be happier.)
    3. It can be worse. ?← (It could be worse.)
    4. The weather can be better. ?← (The weather could be better.)

    Would "can't" version sentences make sense?

    Sorry but I am also wondering whether "I couldn't care less" means "I care" or "I don't care at all". Could you do me a favor?

    Thank you in advance!!

  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Can "can't" replace "couldn't" here? What does "I couldn't care less" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mensu View Post
    Hi,

    I'd like to know if "can't" can replace "couldn't" in the following sentences. Could you please help me with them?

    1. I can't agree more. ?← (I couldn't agree more.)
    2. I can't be happier. ?← (I couldn't be happier.)
    3. It can be worse. ?← (It could be worse.)
    4. The weather can be better. ?← (The weather could be better.)

    Would "can't" version sentences make sense?
    I think all the sentences sound more natural (and more polite) with "could" expressing imaginary situations. With "can" they sound unnatural (mind that mine is a non-native speaker's opinion).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mensu View Post


    Sorry but I am also wondering whether "I couldn't care less" means "I care" or "I don't care at all". Could you do me a favor?
    I don't care at all. (That's what the phrase means, it's not what I think about it )
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Can "can't" replace "couldn't" here? What does "I couldn't care less" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mensu View Post
    Hi,

    I'd like to know if "can't" can replace "couldn't" in the following sentences. Could you please help me with them?

    1. I can't agree more. ?← (I couldn't agree more.)
    2. I can't be happier. ?← (I couldn't be happier.)
    3. It can be worse. ?← (It could be worse.)
    4. The weather can be better. ?← (The weather could be better.)

    Would "can't" version sentences make sense?

    Sorry but I am also wondering whether "I couldn't care less" means "I care" or "I don't care at all". Could you do me a favor?

    Thank you in advance!!
    I agree with Englishhobby.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Can "can't" replace "couldn't" here? What does "I couldn't care less" mean?

    In BrE, we use "I couldn't care less" which, as you now know, means "I don't care at all". Inexplicably, AmE uses "I could care less" to mean the same thing. I have never heard an explanation for that. I'm sure our AmE speakers will let me know if that version of the phrase is falling out of use in favour of the one that makes sense.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Can "can't" replace "couldn't" here? What does "I couldn't care less" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    In BrE, we use "I couldn't care less" which, as you now know, means "I don't care at all". Inexplicably, AmE uses "I could care less" to mean the same thing. I have never heard an explanation for that. I'm sure our AmE speakers will let me know if that version of the phrase is falling out of use in favour of the one that makes sense.
    Sadly, I can confirm that some AmE speakers (mostly young) make the mistake of using "I could care less" when they mean "I couldn't care less". I hate that usage. Unfortunately it seems to be here to stay.

    Google Ngram Viewer

  5. probus's Avatar
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    #6
    Actually not inexplicable. :)

    The AmE usage "I could care less" is ironic. When we were children we used to say "Like I could care less", meaning "as if I ...". Later it was shortened by omitting the "like."
    Last edited by probus; 18-Aug-2013 at 05:25.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Can "can't" replace "couldn't" here? What does "I couldn't care less" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Actually not inexplicable. :)

    The AmE usage "I could care less" is ironic. When we were children we used to say "Like I could care less", meaning "as if I ...". Later it was shortened by omitting the "like."
    As much as I dislike too many "likes", this would be better with the "like" included.

  7. probus's Avatar
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    #8
    It is analogous to "Yeah right" which always means "wrong" in AmE. "I could care less" always means "I couldn't care less."

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