What does “I can’t be bothered” mean?

I can’t be bothered” means “I don’t want to make the effort (work) to do something.” For example:

Elisa is too busy watching TV and can’t be bothered to answer the phone.

“I can’t be bothered” (or, if in the past, “I couldn‘t be bothered”) can also mean “It isn’t very important to me so I don’t want to do it or think about it.”

Dan wants me to meet him for dinner tonight, but I can’t be bothered. I’m going to read a book instead.

Alex is so rude! He passed us in the hall and couldn’t be bothered to say hello.

Notice that we often follow the phrase “can’t be bothered” with the “to” form of a verb (what we call the infinitive), such as “to answer” or “to say” in the above examples.

Another meaning of “can’t be bothered” is that a person cannot or should not be disturbed or interrupted. If someone is very busy with an important meeting or phone call, we might say this person “can’t be bothered”:

Derek needs to ask his boss a question but she is in a meeting and can’t be bothered.

The verb “to bother  means to trouble someone, to cause a problem for someone (including yourself).

If you have a sad face, someone may ask you, “Is something bothering you?” meaning “Do you have a problem?”

Finally, when you tell someone, “Don’t bother!” you mean “Do not do (something)!”

For example, if you have to go somewhere, a friend may offer you a ride in his car. If the place is close by, you might say, “Oh, don’t bother! I’ll just walk.”


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