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You could at least have called her, let her know that you care. But maybe you just don't?

Is the highlighted part completely natural in continuation to the rest to mean but maybe you just don't care? or would you rephrase it?

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  • It's natural enough, if spoken by actors who have understood it. Maybe for written text, you should repeat the word "care" at the end. Commented May 4, 2020 at 21:36
  • Does this answer your question? Care/Care about Commented May 5, 2020 at 4:39
  • I don't understand the distinction between this question and the previous one you had asked. (The fact that this is a negation doesn't make it different, as far as I can tell.) Commented May 5, 2020 at 4:39

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This is completely natural in neutral-register spoken English. It's also completely natural and slightly informal in written English (e.g. emailing an acquaintance).

You are correct; don't stands in for don't care.

For comparison:

  • I would like to learn Chinese; I'm afraid I just can't.
  • I asked him to stop by the supermarket, but he probably [just] won't.

More subtly:

  • The prosecutor accused her of embezzling funds, but she claimed she didn't [or hadn't].
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    Not sure myself, but wouldn't it be better to use "wasn't" or "hadn't been" in the last sentence? You wouldn't say, "She didn't/hadn't embezzling funds". Commented May 4, 2020 at 21:48
  • @MicahWindsor It's not necessarily a direct substitution -- she claimed the didn't here means she claimed she didn't embezzle funds. Look at it this way: if the prosecutor said You embezzled funds, it would be perfect natural for the accused to respond I did not! even though you would never say I did not embezzled funds.
    – Caleb
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 22:27
  • @Caleb, the change from "I did not embezzled funds" to "I did not embezzle funds" is merely conjugation of the verb. It's still pretty much direct substitution, and it works. Commented May 5, 2020 at 0:19
  • I hesitated on that last example because, although my formulation off the top of my head was "didn't," it actually is slightly more tense-consistent to say "hadn't" (implying a past perfect). Native speakers, at least in the US, tend to make nonstandard use of past perfect, conditional perfect, etc. So "didn't" is fine in informal speech. Commented May 5, 2020 at 3:48

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