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Natalia St-Va
Is it a mistake?

Dear Native Speakers,

May I ask your help please. 

Is it ok to say “ he don’t talk too much” and if yes, why? 

Here is a link on this song and it’s text:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GotXeCwUnc&index=76&list=PLLk6KXcgh73yTAdqhvRCEPL4Qfvpf6KOk&t=0s

https://m.en.lyrsense.com/merk_and_kremont/sad_story_out_of_luck

Are there any other cases when break grammar is ok? 

Thank you.


Feb 23, 2018 6:16 AM
Comments · 12

With music lyrics it is OK to use some poetic license. Not so much in regular speech.

"Don't is occasionally used in American English speech and in historical writing as a contraction of does not (as in, "He don't know where he is going."), but this use is now considered improper and should be avoided. Remember that in modern speech and writing, don't cannot be used in the third person singular."

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/qa/don-t-and-doesn-t

February 23, 2018

In Standard American English (as well as other countries' standard forms of English), "don't" cannot be used for third-person singular subjects (we have to use "doesn't"). However, there are numerous non-standard dialects of both American and non-American English where using "don't" for third-person singular subjects is perfectly acceptable.

When writing a document, "don't" should never be used this way, as professional documents in are all supposed to be written in each country's standard form of English. Musical lyrics are more free to adhere to non-standard forms of language.

February 23, 2018

Hi Natalia,

Are there any other cases when breaking grammar is OK?

Well... for entertainment. :) And there's the rub. Native English speakers will automatically recognise that "he don't talk to much" is technically incorrect, even if they use that kind of phrase out of habit. We give it a green light because it evokes a certain image in pop culture: something "street" and "authentic", whereas regular English would just sound dull and false. 

However, if "our entertainment" is the only language input for a learner, it's too easy for students to assume it's "better" to break the rules... and therefore assume that any textbooks or instructions in standard English are "not real English".


So it's really a matter of watching one's linguistic diet, isn't it? :)

February 24, 2018

Thank you, Steven

i have a philological degree; during my university studying, I had some lectures   of "singularity of slang in grammar". So, I can guess, it might exist at least in Russian language. 

February 24, 2018

As others have already commented, this is basically slang. In music, pretty much anything goes since it is a work of art and meant to evoke emotion, not follow the rules of 'proper grammar'.

One thing to note is that it can be very difficult to try and use slang properly. I know this sounds odd since slang is just that, not proper. However, if used incorrectly, it can really sound funny and/or possibly insulting. In other words, use slang expressions sparingly and only when you are sure they are appropriate for the context.

Music is great for practicing aural comprehension, but it's not very good for learning how to say something in regular conversation.

February 24, 2018
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Natalia St-Va
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English