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Adele Teaches You English Grammar


Adele Teaches You English Grammar
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Easy On Me, by British singer and songwriter Adele, has been at the top of Billboard’s The Hot 100 and Global 200 lists this week.

In today’s Everyday Grammar, we will explore how the emotional song can teach you about English grammar. You will learn about subject and object pronouns, expressions, the imperative form, and more.

Let’s start by exploring the name of the song.

Easy on me

The song’s name is Easy On Me. The name probably comes from some of the words you hear in the song - go easy on me, or go easy on me, baby.

So go easy on me

Go easy on me baby

The words use the imperative or command form of the verb go.

As is often the case with this form, the subject pronoun, you, is missing.

Although the subject is not stated, Adele does give a clue about the person she is singing to. She uses the term baby - a term that is used to speak to a loved one.

Note that Adele also uses an object pronoun – me.

This object pronoun comes at the end of the expression, go easy on.

Go easy on means to not treat someone too harshly or in a way that is too demanding. In other words, when you ask someone to go easy on someone else, you are asking them to not demand too much or to not be too severe.

Imagine you see a parent who is talking to their child in a harsh way. Someone might say:

You should go easy on him.

Or

You should go easy on her.

The speaker could also reduce their statement by using the imperative form and say:

Go easy on him.

Or

Go easy on her.

Note that in the examples, the object pronoun comes at the end, just after go easy on.

You could change the object pronoun after go easy on to make any number of statements - go easy on us, go easy on them – for example.

FILE - Adele arrives at the 59th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.
FILE - Adele arrives at the 59th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Feb. 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.


There ain’t no gold in this river

Let’s listen to the beginning of the song.

There ain’t no gold

In this river

That I’ve been washing my hands in forever

Note that Adele uses the short form ain’t. This is an informal way to negate a statement. It is common in everyday speech but is generally not used in formal kinds of writing.

If the words of the song were a bit more formal, they would sound something like this:

There is no gold in this river...

OR

There is not any gold in this river...

But such wording would not be the right fit for the emotions Adele wants to express.

This is a personal, emotional song. So, more casual structures make sense. They make the feelings and words of the song more believable.

Closing thoughts

In today’s report, we explored what a popular song can teach you about grammar. The next time you are listening to music in English, pay careful attention to subject and object pronouns, the imperative form, and different expressions.

Make note of the different terms and structures you hear. Then try to use what you have learned by making your own sentences.

You do not need to explore much of a song in order to get a lot of information from it!

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in This Story

imperative – n. grammar the form that a verb or sentence has when it is expressing a command

harsh – adj. very critical : strongly negative

negate – v. grammar : to make (a word or phrase) negative

formal – adj. : suitable for serious or official speech and writing

casual – adj. not formal; designed for or permitting ordinary dress, behavior, etc

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