Here come the grammar police

7 Sep

Do certain things make you disproportionately irritated? For me, one of those things is blatant bad grammar and punctuation. I’m not too much of a stickler—I’ve played a little fast and loose with the ol’ AP Lit skills here at Cushion, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. And some things just aren’t worth the fight: for instance, you may have heard the argument that the already tired slang phrase YOLO (you only live once) should technically be “you live only once”—but being that nit-picky just makes you look like a tool.

On the other hand, we have to draw the line somewhere. I shall illustrate my case with two examples from the most grammar-barren zone in the modern world: top 40 hits. I know what you’re thinking: poetic license. I’m all for the sacrifice of sentence structure at the altar of poetry—I’ll even wink at a slant rhyme or two—but when your error dramatically alters the meaning of the phrase, Grammar Cop Janie is about to have your license revoked.

Song: “Glad you came” by The Wanted. Offending phrase: “You look well on me.”

This catchy little tune makes me want to get up and dance. But yo yo yo bro. Well on me?” Well is an adverb. Adverbs describe verbs or other adjectives. I’m pretty sure you weren’t complimenting the lady’s skill in using her eyeballs (…were you?). The correct phrasing is “you look good on me.”

I know that “good” doesn’t rhyme with “spell ” or “fell.” But plenty of words rhyme with good. Like you COULD have used another word. Or, you SHOULD consult a dictionary.

Song: “Payphone” by Maroon 5. Offending Phrase: “even the sun sets in paradise.”

This error drives me super-de-duper nutso, because not only does it render the phrase nonsensical, but it would have been so easy to fix. All he (or the writer) had to do was change the word order to “the sun sets even in paradise.” I assume that was the intended metaphor—that even in a perfect world, things have to end. Like the day, for instance. (Yeah…don’t think about it too deeply). As it stands, he’s saying that everything sets in paradise: trees, cars, people, your mom—even the sun sets in paradise, if you can believe it!

So let’s draw a line in the sand, folks—actually, make that a line in cement—before our brains atrophy into pools of slush. Every time I hear this song playing, I can practically see the intelligence dribbling out of our ears.

OK, rant over. Next week, we’ll discuss the cardinal sin of rhyming a word with THE SAME WORD. (Creativity, people. Is it still a thing?)

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One Response to “Here come the grammar police”

  1. GreedyFrog September 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    I try not to listen too closely to lyrics anymore, because I have become too much of a pedant and some things just make my blood boil! For example, when did it become acceptable to say “you was”?

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