These Songs “Ain’t” Wrong—A Personal Thought on Irregular Grammar in Music

Nearly everyone knows that ain’t is the epitome of irregular grammar. It should never be used in business writing. I argue that this lowly contraction should also be avoided like swine flu in all other forms of communication—whether you are having a face-to-face conversation with coworkers, texting your best friend, or chatting with your grandmother on the phone, just don’t say it! However…

The reality is that many people still utilize this linguistic criminal on a daily basis. As such, ain’t is occasionally employed in poetic, literary, and musical endeavors. Here is a list of some of my favorite grammatically-incorrect songs:

  1. It Ain’t Me, Babe (written and performed by Bob Dylan)
  2. The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ (written by Ronny Scaife and Marty Stuart, performed by Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart)
  3. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (written by Jim Steinman, performed by Meat Loaf)
  4. I Ain’t Ever Satisfied (written and performed by Steve Earle)
  5. Ain’t Leavin’ Your Love (written and performed by Townes Van Zandt)

Let’s be honest, the venerable Mr. Dylan might have lost a bit of his raw edge if he had written “No, no, no it is not me, babe. It is not me you’re lookin’ for, babe.”

So, while ain’t will always be wildly unacceptable in formal content, the artistic world remains linguistically unrestrained. And that ain’t bad!

 (Yes, that is a picture of me at three years old, rocking out on my very own guitar.)

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.

Are We Visiting the Drive-Thru or the Drive-Through?

The confusion surrounding the words “through” and “thru” is enough to make anyone want to relax with a greasy burger and some fries. According to most dictionaries, “through” is the proper spelling, while “thru” is an informal variant. However, the use of “thru” has become so common in certain contexts that using “through” now feels incorrect.

For example, which looks normal?

 

  1. I skipped breakfast, so I visited the drive-through on my way to work.
  2. I skipped breakfast, so I visited the drive-thru on my way to work.

For most of us, the second option appears correct because fast-food restaurants generally use the informal spelling on their signage—now it just looks right.

The “thru” spelling also shows up frequently on street signs because fewer letters mean cheaper signs! Today, when I spot a street sign with the proper “through” spelling like the one pictured above, I think it looks odd, even though I know it is grammatically correct.

So, what should you do within your own business content? My suggestion is to always use “through,” except in reference to fast-food restaurants and when quoting street signs.

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.

The Erroneous Apostrophe—Is It Plural or Possessive?

A few weeks ago, I read a syndicated article in the Chicago Tribune concerning erroneous apostrophes.  The article centered on the common yet incorrect usage of apostrophes to indicate plurality. Apparently this is a widespread mistake among fruit and vegetable sellers at farmers’ markets.

Although there are a few exceptions, apostrophes generally signal possession or ownership. For example, “My dog’s bed,” is the bed that belongs to my dog. I only have one dog, but if I did have multiple dogs who shared one bed, it would become “my dogs’ bed.”

The apostrophe is also an indicator of possession when applied to acronyms. However, the relationship between acronyms and apostrophes is particularly  troublesome, even for large and well-respected food manufacturers. I recently noticed that my Silk soy milk carton says “GMO’s? No thanks!” While I am glad that I am not pouring genetically modified organisms over my morning cereal, the GMOs do not have ownership over anything in this phrase, so the apostrophe is unnecessary.

As mentioned above, apostrophes do have a few other uses. For example, apostrophes are necessary in contractions such as don’t and can’t. And, they DO indicate plurality when referencing a single lowercase letter, such as “cross your t’s.” Otherwise it would be “cross your ts,” and that could become confusing.

 

 

Note: Silk changed its packaging soon after this post appeared. The container now refers to “non-GMO ingredients.” I would like to think that I prompted this change, but somehow I doubt it! –Erin, April 27, 2013

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor located in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, including marketing and instructional material for print and the web.