Learn English phrases with the word CARE

Hi students, it’s Shayna from espressoenglish.net. Today I want to answer a question from a student who asked about the difference between care for, care about and take care of. Today I’m going to teach you a couple of different ways to use the English word, care.

I don’t care about…
I don’t care + question word

There are some differences, some important differences between all of these phrases. Let’s get started. If you say, “I don’t care about something.” You’re saying that thing is not important to you.

For example, I really don’t care about celebrities. Some people really like to learn about the lives of famous people and know what they’re doing all the time, I don’t. I don’t care about celebrities, they’re just not important to me. I don’t care about means that something is not important to you. You don’t think about it, you don’t care about it.

Now, another way to say something isn’t important to you is to say, I don’t care plus a question word. For example, if you’re a very independent person then you might say, “I don’t care what other people think about me.” We have I don’t care, followed by a question word, what. I don’t care what other people think about me. I’m just going to live my life independently.

Another example would be, let’s say you have a mother and she has a son who needs to clean his room and the son is complaining because he says, “Oh, it’s going to take such a long time to clean my room.” The mother could say, “I don’t care how long it takes, you need to clean your room.” That’s another example of using I don’t care followed by a question word. I don’t care how long it takes you to clean your room, you still need to do it.

Both of these, I don’t care about and I don’t care followed by a question word, they mean this thing is not important to me. Write a comment, telling me one thing that you don’t care about. For me I gave the example of celebrities. I don’t care about celebrities. What don’t you care about? Write it in the comments.

I don’t care for…

Now I want to move on to, I don’t care for. This is completely different. If you say, “I don’t care for something.” That is a polite way to say you don’t like it.

For example, we can use this with foods. I don’t care for mayonnaise. I just don’t really like it on my sandwiches so I don’t care for mayonnaise. You can use it to talk about TV shows, movies, sports or activities that you don’t like but instead of saying, “I don’t like it.” You can be a little bit more polite by saying, “I don’t care for it.” I don’t care for means I don’t like. It’s a polite and kind of indirect way to express your dislike.

Your next task is to write another comment telling me something you don’t care for. Let’s make it a food. What’s one food you don’t care for. I don’t care for mayonnaise, how about you? What’s one food that you just don’t care for? They’re different. I don’t care about means this thing is not important to me, same with I don’t care plus a question word, and I don’t care for means I don’t like this thing.

I couldn’t care less

Now, we have a very strong expression and that is I couldn’t care less. This phrase is used when something is extremely not important to us. It’s like a stronger version of I don’t care about. If you say, “I couldn’t care less.” That means I really don’t want to think about this, it is completely not important to me.

We use this in similar situations with I don’t care about. I could say, “I couldn’t care less what other people think about me.” That would be an even stronger way to express that it’s completely and totally not important to me.

Now, be a little careful with this phrase, I couldn’t care less, because it is very strong. If your best friend is telling you about a really big problem that she has and you say, “I couldn’t care less.” Well, she’s going to feel bad because it means you really don’t care about her problems and she is not very important to you. Be careful where you use this, okay, because it is quite strong.

It doesn’t matter / Regardless

You might want to know how you might say that something is not important to you in a job or in a professional situation, because if you say, I don’t care about, even that one, it is a little bit strong and so you don’t want to make other people like your co workers or your boss feel bad.

Let’s say you have a big project that needs to get done and one of your co workers is saying, “Oh, but it’s going to be a lot of work.” Or “It’s going to be very expensive.” You could say, “I don’t care how expensive it is.” Or “I don’t care about the cost.” But it’s probably best to use a little more of a polite phrase.

You can use the expression, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, we need to get this project done, or you can use, regardless. Regardless of how much work is needed, we still need to get the project done. Those are two options for saying something is not important or you don’t care about it in a little more of a diplomatic way.

Take care of

We have, I don’t care about, I don’t care plus a question word and I couldn’t care less, to express that something is not important to you. We have, I don’t care for to express that you don’t like something and a lot of students get confused between these phrases and the expression, take care of.

What does take care of mean? We use it in a few different ways. If I’m going to go on vacation and I have a dog, the dog can’t come with me on vacation so I leave the dog at my sister’s house and my sister will take care of the dog.

That means she will be responsible for it, she will be responsible for treating the dog well, for giving it food and playing with the dog. To take care an animal or a plant or children means to look after it, to treat it well, to give it what it needs. That’s one way to use take care of. Another way you can use take care of is when talking about simply responsibility.

Maybe there’s a problem at work and your boss is really upset about this problem, you could say, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” This means I will be responsible for handling the problem and finding a solution.

Take care of means something like to take responsibility for something and in the case of children, animals, plants, sometimes objects that you might give to somebody, it means to treat that thing well. For example, my husband takes good care of our car. He cleans it often, he does the maintenance, he takes good care of it, he treats it well.

The opposite of take good care of something is not take bad care of it. That expression doesn’t exist. We have take good care of, to mean treat something well, and the opposite to treat something badly or not treat it well is, not take good care of it or not take care of it. Someone who doesn’t take care of their car well would leave the car dirty and not do any maintenance on it, maybe they drive to fast and wear out the parts in the car. That would be someone who is not taking good care of their car.

Do you see the difference between all these phrases? If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for watching and I will see you next time. Bye bye.