Appalachian Dialect

I Don’t Care To



Years ago at one of my first jobs I worked for a nice lady that was from off somewhere. She really embraced the people she found herself living among here in Western North Carolina. Although, she said it took her a good long while to get used to how we talked.

She said one of the first women she met was one of her neighbors.

One day she ran into the lady at the local gas station. She was going into town for something to eat so she asked the lady if she’d like to go with her.

My boss said “When I asked her about eating out she said “I don’t care to” so I drove off and left her standing there thinking she didn’t want to go! Later on I learned she really meant sure she’d go. Her saying she ‘didn’t care to’ really meant she didn’t mind going.”

I was pretty young when my boss relayed the little story above to me, and truthfully I didn’t fully understand what she was confused about. All these years later I’ve found the meaning behind the phrase “I don’t care to” is common fodder for folks who like to talk about Appalachian or Southern sayings.

I recently stumbled on a forum where someone was talking about the phrase and how it has different meanings depending on where you live. You can read it here.

The phrase is very common to me. In fact the other morning Granny asked me if I was sure The Deer Hunter didn’t care to put up her new ceiling fan. I said “I promise he don’t care to.”



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  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 17, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    In my part of that means it is no bother and I will do it if you need me too.

  • Reply
    Tamela Baker
    April 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Both my south Texas friends and family and my Kansas kin say “I don’t care to” as a gentler, more polite way of saying “no”. “I don’t mind” is just a middle of the road willingness to do something . However, saying “I don’t care” indicates an amiable lack of preference.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 17, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Is “off somewhere” closer than “way off somewheres”? Does somewhere and sommers mean the same thing?

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    My grandmother used similar phrases from time to time, but they were usually qualified by “if” or “for”, as in. “I don’t care for them to play on the porch.”

  • Reply
    Robert Wasmer
    April 17, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Years ago, Shortly after we moved from Oregon to teach at a boarding high school in rural Mississippi, a rather stout student asked my wife if she would “carry him into town.” I am glad she didn’t reply “I don’t care to.”We deduced he meant take him into town!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 10:49 am

    I have used this frase and been used on me. I think who every is saying it, its how they say it with their expression or with the exclamation .!,I think would help.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 9:59 am

    I have used it — said it as I don’t care to do it, but I would rather just say yes or no.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    April 17, 2019 at 9:44 am

    I never heard “I don’t care to” except in the context that the person did not want to do whatever was asked. This is from 40 years in SC and 30 in Ohio.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 9:03 am

    That expression sounds so right to me. I could have said that phrase and hurt someones feelings throughout the years or had mine hurt and never knew why.

    • Reply
      Julie Hoff
      June 22, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      That’s the only way I’ve heard it used: 30 years in N.C., 29 years in S.C. “Mother, would you like to go get ice cream?” “I don’t care to, but thanks.”

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    April 17, 2019 at 8:52 am

    In my neck of the woods, I think “I don’t care to” would mean I don’t want to. But. “I don’t mind to” would be a yes.

    I’m not sure I’ve heard Don’t care to in SE Ohio. I’m headed home Friday, I’ll keep my ears open.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 8:30 am

    After living in Upper East TN for 11 years, this phrase still confuses me. Perhaps it’s because I now know it has two opposite meanings. Back then I joined a church of warm, friendly people. Imagine my horror when needing a ride a prominent church member said, “Well now, I don’t care to carry Linda to the camp meeting.” We still laugh about it.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 17, 2019 at 8:04 am

    I have my own story about that phrase. In the fall of 1972 I was at the UK Forestry and Wood Technology school in Quicksand, Ky. One of my teachers was from Pennsylvania. He asked the class for volunteers to help him run some germination tests. So after class I told him, “I didn’t care to help.” He looked offended and said, “You mean you won’t help?” I thought he must have thought I had a lot of gall to mean that; totally against my raising.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2019 at 8:02 am

    Yes, this may be where my own “from off somewhere” is showing, because I’d misinterpret both of those expressions. “I don’t mind” to me, means, “It doesn’t bother me,” or “I don’t care,” and if someone said “I don’t care to,” I would take it as a very strong “I don’t want to do that at all!” I remember once when I invited a fellow from Texas to dinner and he said, “I don’t mind” which really surprised me because it sounded like he was saying he would do me a favor! I’ll have to be careful about how I hear these expressions 🙂 P.S. It’s 30 degrees here this morning.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2019 at 8:55 am

      “I don’t care to” means I’d rather not do it in my neck of the woods.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    April 17, 2019 at 7:44 am

    That is confusing. I don’t believe I have heard anyone use the phrase.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 17, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Tip, I’ve always avoided that expression because I find it confusing, like no nevermind. A simple yes or no works for me.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 17, 2019 at 7:13 am

    That would have confused me too.

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