Caring, More or Less

After a considerable hiatus, I am back with a vengeance, wielding my syntactic sledgehammer. Today’s particular subject of derision is the ubiquitous misuse of the phrase, “I could care less.” How often has a respected and beloved friend/acquaintance of yours, uttered this phrase in anger, dismissal, and absolute disinterest? What does it mean, really? It actually means that, even though I am disgusted by your philandering ways, arrogant behavior, or casual disregard of my feelings, I could potentially reach a greater degree of less caring than I do now. In other words, I have not reached my limit of disinterest in you. In fact, what the speaker clearly means to state is, “I couldn’t care less.” That one statement accurately sums up the absolute limit of the not caring that one feels. How confusing for the recipient of the first phrase hurled angrily at him/her. Hearing, “I could care less” might lead me to believe that I could push the boundaries of my bad behavior even further without serious consequences since obviously the speaker is saying he/she could care less in the future than now, whereas receiving the second phrase, leaves me no doubt that I have reached my limit with the speaker and that there will be no less caring than now.

So, dear readers, be caring in your syntactical choices. Remember, caring less offers hope and not caring less offers none.


Thank-you, Garfield!

Who’s Really Unique
or the Most Perfect?


Simply put, the answer is no one. Why? Because, dear syntactical scofflaws, unique is one of those wonderful words permitting no degree of uniqueness. Like the word “perfect,” “unique” by its very definition, stands alone. To be unique or perfect is to be without peer or equal, to be unlike any person or thing. Therefore, there cannot be a “most unique” situation, nor can there be a “really perfect dessert.” Any adverb you may be tempted to add as a further description of “unique” or “perfect” marks you  as a linguistic loser. Yes, you do hear people saying and writing these words in combination with adverbs every day, but that hardly makes them correct.

The next time you hear someone say, “Man, that was a really unique hairball your cat just tossed,” or “She had the most perfect nose after her plastic surgery,” feel smug that you know how to use these words correctly. There is always that subtle temptation, that siren song of language, whispering in your ear that you must amp up “unique” or “perfect” because, otherwise, your words may go unnoticed. Fight the seduction and stay strong. Unique and perfect can stand alone quite well, thank you very much.

Until next time…

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