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    • Join Date: Oct 2010
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    #1

    Use of do/does

    Hello,
    This is a quotation from a song:
    "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse".

    I am a little bit wondered by the use of "don't" rather than "doesn't".
    Is it just a poetic licence or really correct ?

    Thanks

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Use of do/does

    Hi, and welcome.

    I don't know why the person who wrote that chose "don't." Grammatically, it's incorrect and I don't find it more poetic, literary, or natural sounding to use it.

    You are right: doesn't is correct.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  2. Munch's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Use of do/does

    Quote Originally Posted by prince9169 View Post
    Hello,
    This is a quotation from a song:
    "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse".

    I am a little bit wondered by the use of "don't" rather than "doesn't".
    Is it just a poetic licence or really correct ?

    Thanks
    It is non-standard English. Some people speak that way, the song follows the way they speak. It is from a Bruce Springsteen song, so it might represent the way working-class New Jersey people sometimes speak.

    ETA: Barb, I agree it is incorrect in standard English. It is perfectly correct in some dialects.
    Last edited by Munch; 14-Oct-2010 at 14:09. Reason: saw Barb_D's reply


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    #4

    Re: Use of do/does

    Hello,
    thanks all!
    Yes this is from Bruce Springsteen, I admit that singing with "doesn't" doesn't sound good, but I had a doubt due to the presence of conditional statement thus I asked to myself if there was a gramm rule allowing it.

    Thanks again.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Use of do/does

    Ah - I didn't know it was from a song. They do all sorts of things to make things sound "right" even if the grammar has to take a back seat to style.

    As long as he's wearing those jeans from Born in the USA, Bruce can sing anything he wants!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. Munch's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Use of do/does

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Ah - I didn't know it was from a song. They do all sorts of things to make things sound "right" even if the grammar has to take a back seat to style.

    As long as he's wearing those jeans from Born in the USA, Bruce can sing anything he wants!
    What I was trying to say is that grammar is not taking a back seat to style, and it is not true that anything goes. He has just used a non-standard grammar. I think sometimes people get the idea that standard English has rules and dialects or regional variations just throw everything out the window and put words together randomly - that is not the case.

    I agree though, you will hear things in songs that are not part of any dialect or sub-culture and that are just made up by the lyricist.

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    #7

    Re: Use of do/does

    Quote Originally Posted by prince9169 View Post
    Hello,
    This is a quotation from a song:
    "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse".

    I am a little bit wondered by the use of "don't" rather than "doesn't".
    Is it just a poetic licence or really correct ?

    Thanks
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Once when I criticized popular songs that use "don't" instead of

    "doesn't," a young man patiently and gently explained to this old

    man that the writers of those songs probably knew that it was

    "bad" English but that they used "don't" because that word has

    one syllable. Perhaps two-syllable "doesn't" would not fit into the lyrics.

    I thanked him for the lesson in humility.

  5. Munch's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Use of do/does

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Once when I criticized popular songs that use "don't" instead of

    "doesn't," a young man patiently and gently explained to this old

    man that the writers of those songs probably knew that it was

    "bad" English but that they used "don't" because that word has

    one syllable. Perhaps two-syllable "doesn't" would not fit into the lyrics.

    I thanked him for the lesson in humility.
    Yes, sometimes it is a case of poetic license because a word or phrase just fits better or sounds better. But often, musicians use language the way people use language – in all kinds of non-standard ways. I really want to emphasize, there is nothing objectively “bad” about "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse". I know people who speak that way. It is not bad for their grammar to be used in a song.

    It certainly is potentially confusing for learners of English though, and I hope the people who speak that way realize it is not standard English and that other people may judge them badly if they speak that way in, say, a business setting.

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