I heard it in an Adele song (He won't go), and I know she's using not-exactly-proper english sometimes (like "she ain't gon' be"), but I can't tell if I've just never heard it or if it's not correct.

Is it OK to say in an informal conversation?

Here is the verse from the song (full lyrics here):

So petrified, I'm so scared to step into this ride,
What if I lose my heart and fail the climb
I won't forgive me if I gave up trying
I heard his voice today
I didn't know a single word he said
Not one resemblance to the man I met
Just a vague and broken boy instead

  • 2
    It isn't colloquial at all, at least, not in BrE. Perhaps what is meant is "I cannot forgive myself"?
    – Mick
    Oct 8, 2016 at 19:33
  • 3
    Careful with song lyrics. Writers bend the rules of English grammar all the time for the sake of fitting the words inside of the rhythm, meter, and rhyming scheme of the song. That seems to be the case here.
    – J.R.
    Oct 8, 2016 at 19:50
  • +! @J.R. If you like I won't forgive me, wait til you get to Now I'm resemblance to the man I met! Oct 8, 2016 at 20:03
  • @p-e-dant Actually these aren't the correct lyrics... I went to a reliable lyrics site and edited the post. There was another mistake : step into this ride (instead of right) Oct 8, 2016 at 20:51
  • 2
    You're right. Correct grammar calls for the reflexive pronoun here: I wouldn't/won't forgive myself. But even informally, no, we would not hear I won't forgive me in conversation. A listener would be likely to infer that the speaker is not a native English speaker. This was written only to force the thought into the meter of the verse. Oct 8, 2016 at 21:36

1 Answer 1


The right way to say this is I won't forgive myself. However ...

"I won't forgive me" sounds technically like two separate entities are intended to exist, one doing the forgiving and one receiving the forgiving.

So this could be used as a literary or lyrical device to express a person who feels split amongst themselves and not in control of their own actions. In the context of forgiving oneself, one is certainly trying to bring something of themselves under control of themselves, but has failed.

Though it is far more likely me was chosen because it's one syllable and flows with the rhythm of the song better than myself. Intentional rule-breaking like this is not uncommon in songs and poems.

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