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    #1

    Don't let me be misunderstood

    This is a famous song by the Animals. I like it very much.
    This sentence is passive imperative. I learned that you should not use passive imperative. Why should it be passive? What is the difference from "don't misunderstand me"?

    Thanks in advance.

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    #2

    Re: Don't let me be misunderstood

    Isn't it a prayer of sorts? "Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."

    The Lord has perfect understanding, of course. He is not asking the Lord to not misunderstand him. He is asking the Lord to not let other people misunderstand him.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Don't let me be misunderstood

    You also have to remember that with song lyrics, rather a lot of artistic licence is used in order to make the words fit the rhythm. There are myriad examples of poor grammar in song lyrics so using them to base opinion on use of English is a bit pointless.

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    #4

    Re: Don't let me be misunderstood

    Mochimochi, it is actually the usual active imperative. "Let" is an active verb here. The sentence has a structure similar to:

    Don't (you) let him go.

    "Let" means allow here. This sentence says:

    Don't allow him to go.

    Similarly, the original sentence means

    Don't allow my being misunderstood to happen.

    The passive voice is present in the sentence ("be misunderstood"), but it is not borne by the imperative verb ("let"). The imperative verb is active in this sentence.

    However, the following sentence is a bit more tricky and I think this may have made you believe that you were dealing with a passive imperative.

    Let me be misunderstood.

    This sentence can be interpreted in two ways. It is ambiguous. The first interpretation is just like my interpretation of the original sentence:

    Allow my being misunderstood to happen.

    Again, "let" is in the active voice in this interpretation. The second interpretation interprets "let" as a word that introduces the so-called "let" construction or (open) "let" imperative. A famous example of this construction is

    Let there be light.


    from The Book of Genesis. Here, "let" is not an active verb. You can read about the construction here.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 11-Jun-2011 at 11:33.

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    #5

    Re: Don't let me be misunderstood

    Thank you, SoothingDave

    I understand it means "don't let others misunderstand me".

    I've found another example from Harry Potter.

    "Severus, don't let me be taken to the Ministry," he cried. "Call Dumbledore, please."

    Does this means "don't let others take me to the Ministry"?

    Thank you,emsr2d2. I will be careful about song lyrics.

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    #6

    Re: Don't let me be misunderstood

    Quote Originally Posted by mochimochi View Post
    Thank you, SoothingDave

    I understand it means "don't let others misunderstand me".

    I've found another example from Harry Potter.

    "Severus, don't let me be taken to the Ministry," he cried. "Call Dumbledore, please."

    Does this means "don't let others take me to the Ministry"?

    Thank you,emsr2d2. I will be careful about song lyrics.
    Yes it means that. Note: when you use the auxiliary "does" the verb doesn't take an "s".
    "Does this mean..." not "means".

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