I am curious whether my reasoning is right.

That's what you want people to think of you.

My reasoning is as follows.

That is ~

You want people to think <.something.> of you. (Note: < and > hided "something" before my revision.)

--> It can be a noun phrase by using the grammar of a relative pronoun "what".


what you want people to think of you.

==> Then, That is how the dialogue sentence can be composed like this.

That is what you want people to think of you.

Am I right?




For your reference: a full conversation.


A: You spend too much time worrying about what other people think of you.

B: I could care less what anyone thinks of me.

A: That’s what you want people to think of you.


On 17th, August: Please see my revision. First, due to the signs like < and > hid <.something.>. Second, I have explained the meaning of --->.

  • Your interpretation is unclear. Say it in words, not signs...
    – fev
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 13:13
  • For B's reply, see this question. B intends to say that they don't care what other people think. A seems to be saying that B is only pretending not to care. Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 15:33
  • In any case, I would not rely too much on this dialogue to learn how to use English well. What B probably means is that he could not care less, meaning he does not care at all, whereas he literally is saying that he does care to some degree. And I agree with Kate Bunting's answer. Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 15:47
  • Even though "could care less" is a controversial idiom, it's still a common idiom. We can't expect students to avoid encountering it and needing to interpret it, even if some of us happen to prefer that they not use it. Also, try comparing "I can't care less [because I don't care at all]" with "I could care less [if I did care at all]". Tense matters. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


You want people to think something of you. 
You want people to think [what] of you. 

This usage of to think is transitive.  It has an object.  There is something -- some thought -- that you want people to think.

Your line of reasoning doesn't seem to include that object. 

There is a difference between "that you want people to think of you" and "what you want people to think of you".  The one with "that" doesn't have an explicit direct object.  It's possible to care that people think of you without caring what people think of you.

That isn't the case here. 

People think something about you.  What they think about you is important to you.  What you want them to think about you is that you don't care. 

You care that they think that you don't care.


This type of "what" is called a fused relative.  We can substitute, for example, "the thing which" to separate the substantive function from the relative function:

That is the thing which you want people to think of you.

  • Oh, to be honest, it is not my fault. Due to < . >, these signs hid <.something.> before my revision. I have revised it. Could you check once again? Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 13:30
  • 1
    Yes. With your \<something\> placeholder restored, your description matches mine. Going a few steps further, A claims that B spends too much time worrying about whether people think that he is indifferent. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 15:56
  • Thank you so much! Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 15:29

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