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Friday, January 24, 2020

Musical grammar scolds

I recently found myself having to explain the difference between "was" and "were" as the verb in a conditional sentence ("If X were true" rather than "If X was true"). I offered the example of the song What if God Was One of Us, which, of course, should have been "What if God were one of us."

This got me thinking of other songs with glaring grammatical errors. I thought of Live and Let Die's "if this ever-changing world in which we live in."

Other thoughts? A non-law diversion for a Friday.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 24, 2020 at 08:53 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink

Comments

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/which-vs-that/

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Jan 27, 2020 8:08:15 PM

I Started a Joke
by the BeeGees

"I started a joke
Which started the whole world crying
..."

"That" or "Which"? Discuss among yourselves.

Posted by: Howard Katz | Jan 27, 2020 6:28:43 PM

"Can you handle me the way I are?"

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Jan 25, 2020 5:44:44 AM

There are those who think that "I Only Have Eyes For You" should be called "I Have Eyes Only For You" or "I Have Eyes For Only You."

Posted by: Asher Steinberg | Jan 24, 2020 10:45:44 PM

Upon further consideration, I would also propose extending the aforementioned (qualified?) immunity from criticism to certain minor typographical errors (e.g., "timing") in comments to blog posts.

Posted by: hardreaders | Jan 24, 2020 9:45:22 PM

@ZV:

Yes, and as noted by Grammarphobia about 9 years ago, there’s even a third way in which the lyrics can be perceived. Apparently Sir Paul himself isn’t sure of the right answer either. (Could it be more fitting that he calls the lyrics “ambivalent” when he presumably meant to say “ambiguous”?) I also agree with the Grammarphobia author’s view that it’s futile to get worked up over song lyrics. You might as well spend your timing criticizing Picasso for all the anatomically (?) incorrect people in his paintings.

https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2010/12/lyric.html

Posted by: hardreaders | Jan 24, 2020 9:39:56 PM

I always thought (or maybe this was just cognitive dissonance) that the line from "Live or Let Die" was "if this ever-changing world in which we're livin..."

Posted by: ZV | Jan 24, 2020 5:18:21 PM

The subjunctive mood suggests doubt, so the original is correct in its context (and grammatically, if failing to use the subjunctive mood were ever grammatically "incorrect").

Posted by: AB | Jan 24, 2020 11:22:24 AM

How about this one from Victor/Victoria? The rhyme would present a problem if the grammar were to be corrected, but it's still incorrect!

You and me
We're the kind of people other people
Would like to be
Wandering free
We present the kind of picture
People are glad to see

Posted by: Ellen Wertheimer | Jan 24, 2020 9:28:21 AM

How about this one from Victor/Victoria? The rhyme would present a problem if the grammar were to be corrected, but it's still incorrect!

You and me
We're the kind of people other people
Would like to be
Wandering free
We present the kind of picture
People are glad to see

Posted by: Ellen Wertheimer | Jan 24, 2020 9:28:21 AM

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