I like grammar. I might not be among (not between, although amongst is also correct if not a little archaic) the best and brightest, but I like to think I know my way around a sentence. It wasn’t a formal part of my school curriculum, but my mom knows her stuff about words and, as recently as yesterday, continues to keep me on the straight and narrow:

Not to be critical about your blog, but you should be using the possessive form of pronouns modifying present participles. I know that everyday English has become sloppy, but I think it sounds better in its correct form.

For example:  my being (not me being) or his giving (not him giving)Professor Aswell

And so we come to yesterday afternoon, when I was discussing Monday Night Football with a coworker. I said, “The game was close when I went to bed. I wasn’t that emotionally involved in it. I guess I like to see the Saints win, although I could care less about the Titans.”

To which my coworker, whom (not who) I should mention I like a lot, said, “What you meant to say was, ‘I couldn’t care less about the Titans’.”

To which I held myself back from saying, “No, what I meant to say was don’t tell me what I meant to say.”

So. Could I care less about the Titans? Yes. Let’s say Vince Young had a season-ending injury – then I would care less about watching the team. Or if a better game were on a different channel at the same time – then I would care less about the Titans. And the use of the word although in my sentence implies (not infers) that I feel lukewarm about both teams.

I guess my point is that even though some people confuse the two sentences doesn’t mean that the phrase I could care less doesn’t exist at all as a correct sentence at some points in time. It could mean, “I care more than I might, even though I barely care,” or, “If I really dug deep and put some effort in, I could find it in myself to care less. But it would really be a struggle.”

I find the same phenomenon has popped up concerning when to say “me” and when to say “I” when referring to you and another person. There’s been a lot of overcorrection towards “I” in the last few years. I think it’s because so many moms and English teachers corrected us, and we didn’t think long enough about why. Even though it’s correct to say, “Sarah and I went to the store,” it isn’t correct to say, “The teacher talked to Sarah and I.” All you have to ask yourself is, am I the subject of the sentence or not?

Well, I can feel this entry quickly devolving into an aggravated lecture. I guess the point is that we could all care more — not only about the rules of grammar, but about how and why the rules are in place. Perhaps we couldn’t care more. I’m not really sure.

Advertisements