Song Lyric Grammar Errors . . . or Not?

Apparently the Princeton Review (which helps US students prepare for college admission tests) had an example of “Grammar in Real Life” using some song lyrics for students to find the errors. One of those examples was Taylor Swift’s song Fifteen. The Princeton Review said the lyric read “Somebody tells you they love you, you got to believe ’em.” A Swift fan was upset and posted a copy of the test page online. Taylor herself replied that they got the lyric wrong “Not the right lyrics at all pssshhhh. You had one job, test people. One job.” and that the correct lyric was “Somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.” Princeton Review owned up to that error, but posted that the revised line still had a grammar error because “somebody” can’t later be referred to as “them.” “If we look at the whole sentence, it starts off with ‘somebody,’ and ‘somebody,’ as you know, is a singular pronoun and if it’s singular, the rest of the sentence has to be singular.” They apparently forgot, however, that “them” is a gender-neutral, singular pronoun that has been used that way since the 16th Century. So that sentence is actually grammatically correct. Go Taylor!

The same Princeton Review test referenced a Lady Gaga song saying the lyric “You and me could write a bad romance” is grammatically incorrect. OK, you’re correct there. In formal writing, it should be “you and I” EXCEPT song lyrics are not formal writing and “you and me” is what people say all the time, so it is acceptable in what we will call “musical speech.” Go Gaga!

It is admirable for Princeton Review to attempt to test grammar using real life examples, but they need to make sure their answer is correct first.

Grammar Giggle – Eclipse

In a timely finding on my local news station, this was one of their headline stories. Unfortunately, a lunar eclipse is when the earth sits between the sun and the moon while a solar eclipse is when the moon sits between the Earth and the sun. Today’s event (which the station has talked about all week) is a SOLAR eclipse.

Grammar Giggle – Teaching Us Lesions

A friend sent me this from an article she was reading. This is something spellcheck wouldn’t catch, and is probably something the author read knowing what it was supposed to say, so that’s what the author saw. Perhaps taking a step away for some time would have helped the author read what it actually said.

Confusing Words of the Week

It’s time for “Confusing Words of the Week” where I take a set of two or three words that get confused and give you definitions and try to give you a memory trick to help you remember when to use which word. If you have words that confuse you, use Ask PTB or send an email to proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words:

Wangle – to get by devious means

  • Joe was trying to wangle an invitation to the party.

Wrangle – to bicker; to herd horses

  • It seems that politicians love nothing more than to wrangle with opponents.

Tip to help remember–Wrangle (with an “R”) means to “bickeR” or to “heRd hoRses.” The definition of “wangle” does not contain an “R.”

Grammar Giggle – Informaiton

A friend sent this to me. They got it right in one place, but obviously not in the other. Maybe they should be hiring a proofreader instead.

Grammar Giggle – Testing While Walking

If it were actually testing while walking, I might fail. Sometimes I have trouble walking. However, as you see by the second circled word, they meant TEXTING while walking. #azfamily #proofread #proofthatblog

Ask PTB – Capitalization

Question: Is it his case number 30-100 or his Case Number 30-100?

Answer: First, thanks for asking the question. According to Gregg, a noun followed by a number or letter that indicates sequence is capitalized. I think since you are describing a specific case with the sequenced number, it is capitalized. If it just said “his case,” then it wouldn’t be capitalized, but it is like saying “his Mercedes Benz” rather than “his car.”

I hope that helps! And if any readers have questions, check out the Ask PTB page on the website proofthatblog.com.

Confusing Words of the Week

It’s time for “Confusing Words of the Week” where I take a set of two or three words that get confused and give you definitions and try to give you a memory trick to help you remember when to use which word. If you have words that confuse you, use Ask PTB or send an email to proofthatblog@gmail.com and they may appear here soon!

This week’s words:

Loose: not bound; to release

  • The pants were loose after she lost 10 pounds.

Lose: to suffer the loss of; to part with unintentionally

 

  • She had 10 more pounds to lose.

Loss: something lost

  • She will end up with a 20 pound loss.

Grammar Giggle – Underling

This was in a document received in my office. The worst part is that they were attempting to bring attention to the fact that important language was underlined and instead they brought attention to the fact that they can’t spell underlining. An underling would be the lowly associate who probably drafted the document. This is a great example of your brain thinking it knows what it is supposed to say so you see that, even though that’s not what it actually says.

Grammar Giggle – What Do the Trumps Own?

My news station seems to have had trouble last week and used an apostrophe to make a proper noun plural rather than to show ownership (which would require an apostrophe). #azfamily #proofread #grammargiggle #proofthat