7

I want to know the American version of “I can’t be bothered.” I heard that Americans don’t use this phrase that much.

I’ve been googling this and all I get are phrases like “I couldn’t care less” and “I don’t give a [something]” but these are not it. They have totally different meanings.

“I can’t be bothered” means that I’m too lazy and don’t want to put the effort to do something. For example, when I can’t be bothered doing my homework, it’s not that I don’t care about the homework. I want it done and I want to do it but I’m lazy and don’t feel like doing it.

I’m sure Americans also experience this kind of feeling daily. What would an American say in this kind of situation?

14
  • 30
    Regardless of what you may have 'heard', you are mistaken if you think Americans don't say 'I can't be bothered'. Aug 28, 2023 at 7:56
  • 35
    American here, we definitely say "can't be bothered."
    – Esther
    Aug 28, 2023 at 13:37
  • 21
    The thing from England we don't say is "can't be arsed" which means the same thing.
    – Almo
    Aug 28, 2023 at 19:56
  • 7
    I was going to write that as an answer - about Americans using the phrase - but I can't be ... NVM...
    – davidbak
    Aug 28, 2023 at 20:23
  • 7
    They say "yeee haaaw, I can't be bothered already, y'all".
    – Astralbee
    Aug 28, 2023 at 22:32

9 Answers 9

11

"Can't be bothered" (or its ruder cousins) wouldn't seem strange to me (west coast USA), but it wouldn't be something I'd think to say naturally. I might say this as

  • "I should ____, buuuuut..." or
  • "I gotta ____, but that sounds hard"
  • "I have to ____, but y'know.."

"I gotta get up and get dressed, buuut..." means that I have an obligation to get up, and no real excuse for not doing it except that I'm lazy and don't want to do it.

1
  • 3
    "I'm lazy" is also used informally to mean the same thing as "I can't be bothered."
    – Rufflewind
    Aug 29, 2023 at 1:44
51

Americans say “can’t be bothered.” It’s a common idiom here. Wherever you heard that Americans don’t say it, is wrong.

6
  • Agree, it's common here. Some cruder people do seem to prefer "can't be arsed" though.
    – Kevin
    Aug 30, 2023 at 18:51
  • 3
    @Kevin Yep, that's an Internet-ism. A weird one, because we don't otherwise say "arse."
    – Grault
    Aug 30, 2023 at 20:32
  • 2
    @Grault It's a Briticism rather than an Internetism. Us Brits have been saying "can't be arsed" for years before the general public got their hands on the internet ;). Indeed the phrase sometimes gets misinterpreted by Americans as "can't be asked", which actually has a fairly similar literal meaning to "can't be bothered" now that I stop and think about it...
    – Muzer
    Aug 31, 2023 at 8:47
  • This is the correct answer. This phrase is quite commonly used in America and everyone will understand it.
    – reirab
    Aug 31, 2023 at 15:08
  • The American variant for "can't be arsed" is the even-more-crude "can't be f*cked". Used when the speaker really wants to emphasize not just low energy or laziness, but also disdain for whatever they're being asked to do.
    – Ti Strga
    Aug 31, 2023 at 17:47
7

Several things:

  • As others have noted, Americans will say "I can't be bothered to do my homework." In my experience, it's rare, but I'd expect the vast majority of Americans to understand this phrase without a second thought, even if they don't use it themselves.
  • "I could/couldn't care less" actually might be used in this context. More likely as a response, though. Such as, "You didn't do the homework?" "No, I could care less about algebra."
  • To connote the apathy that I think you're looking for in an alternate phrase, I'd suggest I blew it off. As in, "I was so tired after work last night that I totally blew off all of my homework."
  • Just as likely is a simple statement that they didn't do the thing, perhaps with an intensifier. "I totally didn't do my homework last night. I was just too tired."
17
  • 9
    Note that while "I could care less" is quite commonly said, that's not really what people mean... "I could care less" indicates that you care enough that it would be possible to lower the level of caring - what most people mean is "I couldn't care less", indicating that the level of caring is so low, it would be impossible to lower it further.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 29, 2023 at 14:28
  • 4
    @FreeMan It's an idiom. Idioms don't have to make logical sense. I could care less and I couldn't care less are both equally valid. " "I could care less" indicates that you care enough that it would be possible to lower the level of caring" No it doesn't. Not any more than "It's raining cats and dogs" indicates that felines and canines are falling out of the sky
    – Kevin
    Aug 29, 2023 at 18:41
  • 3
    @Jon well, since we're being pedantic, that's not really an oxymoron, which is a word or phrase with a self-contradiction (e.g. wise fool, which is incidentally the literal etymological meaning). "I could care less" is not a phrase containing a self-contradiction. It's a phrase whose literal meaning is opposite from what's normally intended.
    – PC Luddite
    Aug 29, 2023 at 23:17
  • 4
    Note that "I could care less" is a US-only corruption. The first few times I heard this I was in my late teens and interpreted it as a deliberate riff on the more common phrase, where the speaker was saying that they did in fact care. It was only when I'd heard it enough times with enough context that I realised my mistake. If your goal is to be understood, best avoid colloquialisms that could be interpreted to mean the exact opposite when there's already a version that's more common and can safely be read literally.
    – Nye
    Aug 30, 2023 at 10:36
  • 3
    @Jon Do you get similarly upset about "head over heels"?
    – Kevin
    Aug 30, 2023 at 15:02
5

Native American English speaker here; "I can't be bothered" and its variations are phrases I would use, and it wouldn't be strange for me to hear this coming from others. However, I would say that it doesn't necessarily come with the implication that the task being discussed is one that is of importance. "Blew it off" definitely comes with that implication.

3
  • 5
    "Native American English speaker here" - is there a specific dialect of English that Native Americans speak? ;-) Aug 30, 2023 at 8:53
  • 5
    For clarity, I'm not Native American, American English is my native language. Aug 30, 2023 at 19:03
  • 3
    @Randal'Thor Yes. The American one. :)
    – reirab
    Aug 31, 2023 at 15:06
4

As a native speaker of American English, I would not find it at all odd to hear someone say that they "can't be bothered". This feels like perfectly understandable American English to me. Other similar phrases which spring to mind are of the form

I would [do a thing], but...

  • I can't be bothered.
  • I can't be arsed.[1]
  • I don't feel like it.
  • I don't wanna.
  • I won't.
  • ain't nobody got time for that.
  • ...meh.
  • ... ... ... .
  • [rolls eyes].
  • [shrugs and walks away].

[1] This is probably more British English than American, but I use it quite frequently, so I'm going to include it on the list.

2
  • I've heard "cbf" or "can't be f**ked" from more vulgar American English speakers (possibly has Australian English origins).
    – leetbacoon
    Aug 31, 2023 at 15:23
  • 2
    @leetbacoon I almost put that one in there, but am not entirely sure about the culture of this particular SE site, vis-à-vis profanity. :D Aug 31, 2023 at 17:05
1

It's definitely a phrase people use but I think maybe what you are referring to is that, at least to my ear, it can come off as a little rude. That is, it can imply that something is beneath you. I'm not sure how it's used elsewhere but it's not something I would say to a request from someone. It seems a little passive-aggressive to me and I would tend to say 'no' in a much more direct (and perhaps more colorful) way.

1

I want it done and I want to do it but I’m lazy and don’t feel like doing it.

You were so close!

Phrasings along the lines of "... but I didn't feel like (doing) it." are very common for expressing this kind of "too lazy to do something that you want-to/need-to/ought-to do" sentiment. (At least to my Midwestern US ear.)

UK: "I really need to go pick up a few things at the shops, but I can't be bothered."
US: "I really need to go pick up a few things from the store, but I don't feel like it."

0

American English speaker: The answers that "can't be bothered" is and is not a common American phase are both sorta correct.

Americans would use the logically equivalent "I won't bother" or "I didn't bother".

"I didn't bother doing X" usually means something along the lines of "I treated X as optional or unnecessary" (justified or not).

  • "I didn't bother doing my homework last night."
  • "I didn't bother rinsing my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher."
  • "I didn't bother sorting my clothes before washing them."
  • "He got fired because he didn't bother telling his boss he would be out of town."
  • "I am not going to bother adding outside sources to this answer."
1
  • Welcome to ELL. It’s preferred here that answers provide some support for claims they contain. For instance, what is your basis for saying that “can’t be bothered” use “sorta” isn’t common in American English? Aug 31, 2023 at 3:25
-1

A distinctively American variant would be:

I can't deal with this right now.

I can't handle this right now.

I can't take this right now.

These would be considered rude in usage, but so is "can't be bothered". The American version is more testy, though.

1
  • 1
    These don't mean the same thing as "I can't be bothered". Your suggestions all involve too high a level of stress to do the action, whereas "I can't be bothered" implies apathy or laziness, not stress, as the limiting factor.
    – gotube
    Sep 5, 2023 at 23:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .