Music Quiz

Grammar In Lyrics

by Amanda Flinner

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Attention! The Songfacts grammar class is now in session. Unsheathe your red pens and prepare to do battle with the Billboard charts. We'll no longer tolerate double negatives, erroneous apostrophes, problematic pronouns, and that pesky proliferation of ain'ts. Motown will have to make do with "There Isn't Any Mountain High Enough." By the time we're done, every poetic license will be revoked. Some of our favorite songs will sound terrible, but hey, they'll be error free. (I see that dirty look. Report to Mr. Yankovic in "Word Crimes," and explain yourself.)

Not all grammar guides agree on what should be considered hard-and-fast rules (The Chicago Manual of Style decided ending a sentence with a preposition is A-okay). Go with the strictest sense of a rule, and we'll explain some possible exceptions or refutations in the answer.
Hey, we have a whole list of songs with bad grammar in the title
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Comments: 7

  • Ray from Md.I think I better go back to English 101
  • Joshua from MinneapolisThe chorus of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" must give English teachers nightmares.

    "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free..."
    ("An American" is a person, but the rest of this line treats it as a place.)

    "And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me..."
    (And now this line treats "an American" as a right; i.e. a thing.)

    "And I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today..."
    [Who's "her"? I think he means America as a nation, but again, so far the chorus has only referenced a person; i.e. "an American"; i.e. Greenwood himself, who certainly isn't a "her" (unless, of course, there's something he's not telling us...)]
  • Martin from TorontoThe Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down. The Band. "by May 10th Richmond had fell..."
  • Dj from CaliAntiquated grammar "rules". Languages change over time. "Whom" is pretty much dead outside of pretentious academia...just let it go. Fewer and less mean the exact same thing. 10 items or less, 10 items or fewer...who cares. Still, there is "literally" no excuse for saying "literally" for things that can only be taken "literally" and not figuratively or symbolically. Interesting article - a good read.
  • Shawn from MarylandGreat article, but I failed the quizzes. Ain't you got nuthin' easier?!?! ;-)
  • David from Georgia I guess your degree in English is still paying off especially for this article.
  • Cindy from AzWell,I suck at grammar
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