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Grammar question


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Writing a song and I would rather use this...

 

He has no attitude

 

But I was wondering if that is even "proper." Or...

 

He doesn't have an attitude

 

...is the proper way. Of course, I can't use example #2 because of meter but I'm curious if #1 is bad grammar.

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I'm not an expert in english grammar as I'm italian, I don't write lyrics, but If you just read the lyrics of all times and the poems as well, you'll notice that the language is often stretched and changed for musical and expressional purposes. The important thing is that what you want to say is clear and direct, and, as always, the first thing that came out from your creativity seems the better of the two.

 

You're making art, not a grammar treaty.

 

BTW it seems correct english to me (for what I know).

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Originally posted by alfonso:

I'm not an expert in english grammar as I'm italian, I don't write lyrics, but If you just read the lyrics of all times and the poems as well, you'll notice that the language is often stretched and changed for musical and expressional purposes. The important thing is that what you want to say is clear and direct, and, as always, the first thing that came out from your creativity seems the better of the two.

 

You're making art, not a grammar treaty.

 

BTW it seems correct english to me (for what I know).

Yes, believe me, I butcher grammar plenty. Poetic license. I was just wondering because, so far, in this particular song, it's pretty clean, grammatically. I thought, heck, you _can't_ HAVE "no" attitude but you _can_ NOT have an attitude.

:confused:

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Both are "correct", so go with what fits.

 

And beleive me, if Jimi Hendrix can get away with claiming that manic depression is a "fustrating", instead of "frustrating" mess, your problem is small.

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Both are okay but I could see where someone might say that example #1 is a sentence fragment-technically it should be an attitude OF something-

confrontation, condescension, etc. It would be like saying, `he has no reason`. To do what?@Just my opinion though, popular usage usually wins.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

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The phrase "to have an attitude" is extremely colloquial. "He has not attitude" is similarly colloquial. As long as that suits your purposes, feel free to use it. It's just not very accurate.

 

Everyone has an attitude. In fact, we have multiple attitudes, one about just about every subject. When we let things bother us enough to become emotionally demonstrative in the presense of others, we are DISPLAYING our attitudes, not HAVING an attitude. Hence, a phrase like "He shows no attitude" or "He never showed an attitude" would be more accurate. The attitude is there; it's whether it surfaces that matters.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Attitude is an interesting word. It originally meant "position in space" and you'll still hear people speak of the attitude of an aircraft (no, not altitude). But for the most part the figurative meaning has taken over.

 

regarding grammar in lyrics, I think violations and or devaitions from convention call attention to themselves, which can be useful if that attention pays off somehow, i.e, break the rules if you have an expressive and not merely an expedient reason for doing so, if you're coppoing a recongizable voice or doing some word play. For the most part, it's good practice to follow conventional, transparent grammar. Of course, constructions like "ain't got no" and "he don't" are utterly conventional, and thus correct, in the grammar of rock lyrics.

 

Or so says my humble opinion.

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Originally posted by LiveMusic:

Writing a song and I would rather use this...

 

He has no attitude

 

But I was wondering if that is even "proper." Or...

 

He doesn't have an attitude

 

...is the proper way. Of course, I can't use example #2 because of meter but I'm curious if #1 is bad grammar.

The right answer, as everyone says, is use whichever you prefer.

 

But they are very different phrases.

 

I know I may just be a cat, but from what I can tell (and I disagree with Dan South here), you are using "attitutde" as slang for "sass." Grammatically speaking, this is fine, for the same reason a word like "jock" can apply to people as well as straps.

 

With "attitude" as slang for sass, both phrases are technically OK, although the second is less emphatic than the first. I think this is because when "no" becomes an adjective, it attracts attention to itself. As an adjetive, "no" becomes brash and defiant, as if anyone who dares doubt it is surely an idiot who cannot see the truth about what is right in front of them:

 

"Have you no shame?"

"Have you no decency"

"You have no tomatoes?!!!"

 

On the other hand, if you want to simply point out that a quantity of something, whether it's shame or tomatoes, happens to be zero, avoiding "no" gives it a more matter-of-fact tone, as if you're simply communicating the fact rather than expressing judgment.

 

"He does not have any tomatoes" (no big deal)

"He has no tomatoes" (now I'm pissed)

 

"He doesn't have an attitude" (that's just the kind of guy he is)

"He has no attitude" (he's just a regular guy, despite all he's been through)

Dooby Dooby Doo
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