Negative Verbs get messed up in pop songs (Rules for He/She/It Part 2)

I’ve written before about the verb “to be” and the rules for He/She/It in this post. But what happens when we say them in the negative? This post is about that.

If you listen to popular English songs, you’ll often notice that people don’t obey the rule, and as an English teacher this drives me a bit nuts. For example, one song I love “The way I are” has several errors. I absolutely love this song. This is because it talks about self acceptance. I also love it because it featured on an incredible dance sequence of “So You Think You Can Dance” which was amazing. But… find the errors in this song…

Instead of “I ain’t got no money,” rather say “I don’t have any money.” OR “I haven’t got any money.”

Love this line: “I like you the way you are,” (perfect grammar too!)

But they ruin it just for rhyming with “Can you handle me the way I are?” (which should be “the way I am”)

There are also a lot of songs out there featuring the incorrect do/doesn’t.

How about this one – “He don’t love me”

Instead of “He don’t love me,” rather say “He doesn’t love me.”

Sometimes you can despair if ESL learners can learn things correctly when popular culture doesn’t pay attention to grammar. Even if it really sounds good!

So what are the rules?

Basically, you use the word “not” in it’s abbreviated form.

I am not happy.

She isn’t happy.

He isn’t sad.

It isn’t hungry.

They aren’t happy.

We aren’t thirsty.

You aren’t tired.

I/you/we don’t and He/she/it does. I don’t like asparagus. She doesn’t like broccoli.

It’s the same concept for have and has – you add the not – I haven’t got a pen. She hasn’t got a doll.

Here’s a worksheet to put these skills into practice:

Here’s a video of me explaining this: (Chinese watch here)

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