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  1. #1
    b.a.d.'s Avatar
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    Default Song lyrics and verb tenses

    Hi! Is it okay for some song lyrics to describe actions that are considered to be happening at the moment using present simple? For example, Judas Priest - Love Bites:

    "When you feel safe
    When you feel warm
    That's when I rise
    That's when I crawl

    Gliding on mist
    Hardly a sound
    Bring the kiss
    Evils abound
    ....
    Into your room
    Where in deep sleep
    There you lie still
    To you I creep

    Then I descend
    Close to your lips
    Across you I bend
    You smile as I sip

    Now you are mine
    In my control
    One taste of your life
    And I own your soul

    Softly you stir(???)
    Gently you moan(???)
    Lust's in the air
    Wake as I groan"
    ...


    Another thing that seems strange to me is here
    Dokken - Into The Fire

    "You weave your spell, your eyes they beckon me
    Your lips they speak, lies and misery
    I know it's wrong, but I can't turn away
    The flames draw near, they're telling(???) me to stay"


    'Your lips speak', but 'the flames are telling' - could anyone please clear this up?
    Response from native speakers is more preferable.
    Thank you

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    Song lyrics can do pretty much what they want to fit the tune.

  3. #3
    b.a.d.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Song lyrics can do pretty much what they want to fit the tune.
    So in such cases present simple instead of present continious is acceptable? And what present continious would mean if used along with present simple, like in an exaple above?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    Songs are not taking grammar tests, so terms like acceptable don't apply. They can break every grammatical rule they want to, and regularly do.

    One point with the present simple and continuous- we can use the present simple for short duration action as they happen, so a sports commentator may say He shoots- he scores as the person kicks the ball, so some of those like I bend in the song are fine. However, the needs of a song - the limits imposed by the tune - mean that grammar comes second, which is why they are often not a good way to study a language. Adding -ing to every verb would affect the song, so if it's easier to use the simple form to fit the tune, then that is what normally happens.

  5. #5
    b.a.d.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    Thank you very much for a clear explanation. But still I can't see the condition on which present simple and present continious used in the second example. Or is -ing added just to fit tune?

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    I wouldn't bother trying to analyse them grammatically. Here's a famous example from Wings' Live and Let Die:

    But in this ever-changing world in which we live in
    Count the number of times he uses in there. It fits the music, which is why he did it- it doesn't really matter that it is total preposition overkill- it fits and the listener gets the message. There's no condition- there a tune and a rhythm and words can be hammered, twisted, word order chopped and changed, tenses abused, unnecessary words added, etc. It's a song first and foremost. There are no conditions, no acceptable grammar rules. If it fits and makes some sense, it goes. If you use telling, it fits. If you use tell, it doesn't. That's it. It's a song.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    Well, that's pretty confusing )) However, it gives more freedom of creativity. Thank you, again

  8. #8
    mrang is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Song lyrics and verb tenses

    In general, like most commenters said, songs may not follow grammar rules. All they may need is to rhyme.

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