Difference between: Don't care / I don't mind / It doesn't matter / Never mind

Discussion in 'English Only' started by HyphenSpider, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. HyphenSpider

    HyphenSpider Banned

    Spanish, Spain
    What's the difference between these phrases?:

    - Don't care
    - I don't mind
    - It doesn't matter
    - Never mind

    They all have a similar meaning for me, but I guess they don't mean the same.

    Please give me some examples if you can.

  2. mstewie08 Member

    "Don't care" means you don't care about what happens. It won't change your views at all.
    "Don't mind" means you are allowing it to happen.
    "It doesn't matter" means you don't think it can help you, or won't affect the outcome.
    "Nevermind" means forget about the fact I ever said anything.
  3. Hello HyphenSpider.

    It depends on the context in which they are used. Examples:

    My boyfriend has left me but I don't care. (It doesn't matter).

    Yes, you may go and play in the park. I don't mind.

    It doesn't matter if you haven't finished your homework. You can do the rest tomorrow.

    I don't mind if you haven't finished your homework. You . . . .

    Never mind if you haven't finished your homework. You. . . . .

    Don't care - should be used with care. It usually has totally ''couldn't care less'' connotations. For example, a parent wouldn't say ''I don't care if you haven't finished your homework'', but might say, ''I don't care if you think it's too early for bed, you are going now.''

  4. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    Yes, out of all of these "I don't care" sounds the harshest. I think this is because "to care about something" has a positive, sentimental connotation:

    I care about you and want you to be happy.

    So when someone says "I don't care", it can feel quite cold and insensitive (though this depends a lot on the tone).
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I am likely to repeat the views already expressed, but never mind, I don't care, it doesn't matter and I don't mind being considered repetitive.

    I don't care.
    As this indicates complete detachment and disinterest, it is the most emotionally-charged of the four. You can do what you like, I don't care, it is nothing to me.

    I don't mind.
    This is a gentle statement indicating general assent and support.

    It doesn't matter.
    This is often rather like I don't mind. Alternatively, it is very like never mind.

    Never mind.
    This carries a strong sense of forgiveness or reassurance. It's OK, I know you have done something silly, but we can make the world OK, between us.
  6. mstewie08 Member

    Never mind can also be interpreted as "somethings wrong and im sad, bug me about it," depending on how its said and in what context. Such as a guy has been giving hints to a girl he really likes. Then she comes to talk to him about how she thinks some guy is hot. He says with a sad, depressed, attitude, "Just.....never mind." If you hear it like this ever from guy or girl, it means to put your nice mode on and talk to them. God, this has happened to me one to many times hahaha.
  7. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    "I don't mind" could also mean "I don't behave obediently." Same with "Never mind." I know I never do.
  8. jess oh seven

    jess oh seven Senior Member

    UK/US, English
    A lot depends on the situation, attitude and tone of voice

    - Don't care - generally quite negative, informal, and can be construed as impolite at times
    - I don't mind - quite polite way of expressing you have no preference.
    - It doesn't matter - can be used to dismiss a suggestion for example, or simply express that whichever option chosen is irrelevant.
    - Never mind - can be used dismissively or when the information is no longer needed. can also be used when you're frustrated etc.

    again, it all depends on tone of voice/attitude/context! sorry for the vague explanation.
  9. Kat LaQ Senior Member

    NY, NY
    English, USA
    It's pretty interesting that many of these can have either a negative or positive connotation, depending on the situation. And, I would argue, on the intonation and where the stress is placed. I have indicated the stressed syllable in red.

    I don't care - this usage is informal and expresses indifference. It's pretty innocuous, not at all impolite.
    I don't care - this usage expresses frustration or anger and often is an attempt to silence protest.

    Indifferent: You are going to dinner with a friend who asks if you'd like Japanese or Italian. "I don't care", you respond, indicating you have no preference.
    Annoyed, attempting to silence protest: Let me borrow LRV's example above: ''I don't care if you think it's too early for bed, you are going now.'' The child's opinion is not important, dismissed, the parent is the boss.

    I don't mind. Means it doesn't bother me, I give you permission. Can be indifferent, as in "Is it OK if I smoke?" or encouraging, as in "Is it OK if I kiss you?" Answer in both cases: "I don't mind".

    Never mind often means "I was just talking about something but you didn't get it so I am not going to repeat it. Let's move on." It could be innocuous: perhaps you were thinking out loud or mumbling and the other person didn't hear the whole story and asks, "What did you say?" "Nothing. Never mind." But I think it is most often used dismissively, as mstewie08 so poignantly describes. another example: "I told you three times already but you're not listening. Never mind!" This might be followed by an awkward silence.

    Hope that gives you some context.
  10. I am back in the mists of time, in my primary school playground.

    If a nasty child was excluded from a game and said ''I don't care'' (poking their tongue out), there would be an immediate chorus of ''Don't care was made to care, nah nah nah nah nah.''

    I expect it still goes on to this day. :)

  11. Parousia

    Parousia Member

    Adelaide, Australia
    South Africa, English
    I wonder whether this usage is specifically American. I've never come across either term used in the ways you suggest, either in South Africa or here in Australia. :)

  12. I can see what you mean River, as in ''paying heed to'' or ''paying attention to''.

    ''I don't mind my manners when I'm invited out to dinner.''

    ''I never mind how I'm dressed - I'm very unconventional - even scruffy.''

  13. HyphenSpider

    HyphenSpider Banned

    Spanish, Spain
    Good! Thank you very much for all your answers! I understand it a bit more now. ;-)
  14. Lau Lau

    Lau Lau Senior Member

    Español, España
    I have a question:

    Could you say ''Don't care'' as an imperative form, like saying to someone ''this is not your business''? For example:

    Two persons have just argued. They are angry. But, some time afterwards, one says to the other:

    - What are you doing? (He/she is calmed now, not angry)
    - (The other, still angry): Don't care (You do not care). It is not your business.
  15. yyfroy

    yyfroy Member


    Your answer is excellent! Thank you very much!

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