grammar fun.

There are many different bands and singers that have broken through and made ‘poor grammar’ an acceptable form of expression. How can “Hound Dog” be appreciated without this breach of ‘proper’ English? Elvis sings “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time.” It’s OK. People sing it all the time; no cringes by the anal-retentive grammar snob to be found. Many of his songs have the common dialect, flying against the rigidity and snobbery of correct English usage.

Then there are the we’re-better-than-you-all ennui of The Strokes, with Julian Casablancas intentionally – and quite nonchalantly – crooning and drawling out his feelings, such as: “When we was young, oh man did we have fun!” It’s really not a bother at all. It’s almost expected for them to do this, even if they use the the third-person form of the verb.

How about these two? Both of these bands are noted to be a bit more ‘proper’ in terms of being grammatically correct. Are these breaches unintentional:

Snow Patrol: “If I lay here, if I just lay here… would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

Editors: “The saddest thing that I’d ever seen were smokers outside the hospital doors.”

With Snow Patrol, we have the conundrum of the verbs lay and lie. We lie down; we lay something down. In the past, we lay down and we laid something down. What does one use with the ‘if-clause’ in a conditional sentence? For some reason it’s eluding me. I’ve had moments when I think Snow Patrol had it right, but then I always second-guess myself.

With Editors, you have “the saddest thing that I’d ever seen” which is singular, so it should be “was”. BUT, “smokers” is a plural word, which is why the band put “were” instead. Did they correctly form this sentence? I think it’s an awkward sentence that should have been edited (pun not intended).

I really shouldn’t over-analyze this shit.