How to say you give zero effs.

# The Linguistic Art of Giving Zero Effs

Oct. 20 2015 3:00 PM

# Look at All the Zero Effs You Can Give!

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing.

Some months back on the Strong Language blog, Stephen Chrisomalis counted how many swears we can give. Quite a lot, it turns out. We can give a fuck. We can give two fucks. We can even give a million fucks. We can especially give three fucks, based on Stephen’s numbers. And this doesn’t even begin to account for all the shit’s and damn’s we can give—or, really, don’t give. See, when it comes to giving a fuck, we’re ultimately playing a zero-fucks game.

To recap parts of Stephen’s piece, the sweary construction give a fuck functions as a negative polarity item. We say I don’t give a fuck as a way to emphasize that we really don’t care. The converse, I give a fuck, is not a way we would normally express care, unless for humorous effect, which appears to be increasingly the case of late.

Stephen pointed us to two particular memes illustrating some new ways we are playing with the construction: “Look at All the Fucks I Give” and “Not a Single Fuck was Given That Day.” As he noted, these memes play with the construction’s grammar (e.g., give a fuck > a fuck was given) and countability. Stephen focused especially on the latter, observing the growing use of fuck (and shit) as count nouns: one fuck, two fucks, fucks, (+1) fucks.

Well, furthering Stephen’s observations, it seems giving a fuck has made the big mathematical leap and discovered zero. For its humor, another iteration making the online rounds, “Zero Fucks Given,” takes the giving a fuck construction literally, both logically and numerically speaking:

You don’t give a fuck.
You give no fucks.
∴ You give zero fucks.
QED.