A lot of English learners make a mistake thinking that “I don’t mind” and “I don’t care” have the same meaning. However, they do not. They have quite similar meanings, but the effects these two phrases bring about are quite different.
So today we are going to talk about the difference between “I don’t mind” and “I don’t care”.
By learning this, we can make sure that you are using the right one so that whomever you’re speaking with, whether it’s your English teacher or a friend or a colleague, they will not get the wrong idea.
We are also going to talk about “It doesn’t matter” because this is quite similar to “I don’t care”, but we can use it in different ways.
We are also going to share a really great useful phrasal verb with you that you can use instead of some of these responses and we are gonna give you a quick quiz to test your understanding of all of these phrases at the end.
So let’s jump into this lesson!
I) I DON’T CARE
So, what is the difference?
“I don’t care” is used when we don’t really give any importance or consideration to something
- “Do you want to watch a movie go to the theater or stay in and watch Netflix?” – “I don’t care”
This means I could do any of them. But that also means that I don’t really give any importance to these activities.
So if your friend is putting in a lot of effort into trying to plan an activity with you, like going to the movies or watching Netflix or whatever, and you say “I don’t care”. That means to them that you don’t really appreciate their effort and that could feel really hurtful to them.
So instead of “I don’t care” a better phrase to use would be:
- Whatever you like!
- I’m up for anything/ I’m down for anything.
“I’m up for anything” means that you are feeling like exploring any option, you’re okay with anything. It’s probably more a little bit more common.
“I’m down for anything” means the same thing that you’re willing to try anything, but it’s way more informal and you shouldn’t use that in a professional environment.
We are gonna share some more examples, in which using “I don’t care” is acceptable:
- “So what do you want on your pizza?” – “I don’t care. Whatever you want. I’ll eat anything. I’m so hungry here.”
- It’s probably acceptable to say “I don’t care” in this case. It’s like it’s really not important because I’m so hungry.
- “Did you know that guacamole is an extra charge?”- “Yeah, I don’t care. I love guacamole”
- In this case, you mean that your love of guacamole is so big that paying extra for it is of no importance to you.
But again, be careful! Saying “I don’t care” could sound rude!
If your coworkers invite you to lunch and they ask you:
- “Where would you like to go to lunch today?” – “I don’t care”
- In this case, saying “I don’t care” could really sound off-putting. It could sound like it’s not important to you to go to lunch with your colleagues
So instead of saying “I don’t care”, try saying
- Whatever sounds good to you!
- I don’t know, what were you thinking?
- Whatever you like.
- It’s up to you.
- I’m okay with any option.
- How about you pick it today .
- What were you thinking?
These are all really much better expressions to use in this situation then “I don’t care”.
People often use “I don’t care” when they’re upset. It’s really important to think about your tone of voice because if you say “I don’t care” with a soft light voice, then it’s nice and friendly. However, if you say “I don’t care” with a deep serious voice, then it’s quite confusing. People may think that you’re upset with them.
Now another way that we can use “I don’t care” is actually as a phrasal verb, when you add the preposition “for”.
“I don’t care for something” has a completely different meaning. It means that you don’t like or you don’t prefer something
- I don’t care for overly sweet desserts.
- I don’t care for politics.
- I don’t care for cold weather.
What’s something that you don’t care for, tell us in the comments and practice using this phrasal verb.
II) I DON’T MIND
When you say “I don’t care”, you actually mean “I don’t mind”. Let’s look at how you can use “I don’t mind”!
“I don’t mind” means that it’s not an inconvenience to you, it is not going to make you upset and
Instead of using “I don’t mind”, Americans often say:
- No problem
- No worries
- Don’t worry about it
“I don’t mind” is just a little bit more formal. So know that you have different options here
If you’re supposed to meet your colleague and they text you or call you and say
- “I’m running 15 minutes late” – “That’s okay. I don’t mind”
- That’s totally appropriate, but saying “I don’t care” really sounds rude in this case.
So be careful and make the right choice.
- I don’t mind if sometimes my neighbors are a little bit noisy because that’s apartment living.
- I don’t mind when it rains because it makes the sunny days that much more enjoyable.
You can also use “I don’t mind” very strategically if you’d like to ask someone to do something for you a favor, or if you’d like to ask for a favor, you can put it this way.
Let’s say you’re out to lunch, or maybe you’re on a date, and you want the other person to pay, you could say:
- “I don’t mind if you pay for lunch”
- It’s a little bit of a funny way to ask for a favor, but it’s common
Let’s say you don’t feel like driving, and you could say:
- “I don’t mind if you drive today”
Actually, you can use the phrase “I don’t mind” for anything that you want to ask someone to help you do. It’s definitely an indirect way to request help, but it is common.
You can also use this as a question if you want to give some kind of maybe disappointing news.
Maybe you’d plan to go out to lunch and you want to cancel your plans. You might ask your friend
- “Do you mind if we don’t go out to lunch today?”
- “Do you mind if we cancel our plans?”
- “Do you mind if we don’t go out to lunch today because I am not feeling well?”
So, “do you mind” is a really great way to soften a request.
III) IT DOESN’T MATTER
“It doesn’t matter” is a phrase that is more similar to “I don’t care”. It also means of no consequence or little importance.
- “It doesn’t matter if it rains today. I’m staying inside and working all day anyway”
A lot of the times people will say “It doesn’t matter to me”
- “It doesn’t matter to me if it rains or not. I’m gonna stay inside today anyway”
You might also use the word “matter” in the phrase “No matter”.
- No matter how fast we drive, we’re not going to make it on time.
- No matter how long it takes, we will succeed.
Many English speakers might use no matter to say “okay”. But American English speakers usually say no problem or no worries instead.
- No problem!
- No worries!
If you’re thinking of using one of these phrases to share your opinion or a lack of opinion, we would suggest maybe using a different phrase.
So if someone asks your opinion like “Where would you like to eat lunch today?”, instead of saying “I don’t care” or “It doesn’t matter”, try a different phrase like:
- Whatever you like!
- What do you have in mind?
- It’s up to you!
IV) IT’S UP TO YOU
“It’s up to someone” is one of the most favourite phrasal verbs. This phrasal verb means the decision is with you, and you are the one to make the final decision
- It’s up to my boss whether I can take a week of vacation in the summer or not.
So whoever has the decision-making power, it’s up to them.
- It’s up to you if you can become fluent in English or not.
It is the end of our lesson today! Tell us in the comments and let us know if you have any questions, any doubts, or any examples that you would like to share using “I don’t care”, “I don’t mind”, “It doesn’t matter”, or the other phrasal verbs that we have just shared with you above!
In order to get further explanation and practice your listening skills also, watch the video below. Thank you for reading and see you in the next writing!
Credit: Youtube Channel “Go Natural English”