I have a question about the lyrics of "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)" sung by ABBA.

I wonder about a sentence "Won't somebody help me chase the shadows away". http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/abba/gimmegimmegimmeamanaftermidnight.html

What does the "Won't" mean?
When I first saw this sentence, I thought it was a mistake for "Want".

If the "Won't" is correct, what is the meaning and the nuance of the sentence?
If the "Won't" is incorrect, what is the true word?

  • 1
    "Won't" = "Will not". – Mick Nov 16 '16 at 9:42
  • 1
    She is just asking for help and so far, she hasn't found anyone. – Mick Nov 16 '16 at 9:46
  • 1
    The song is about a woman being alone, and she's wondering if there isn't a man to keep her company. "Won't somebody help me chase the shadows away" = "Will somebody help me chase the loneliness away" – Peter Nov 16 '16 at 9:48
  • 1
    If someone asks you "Won't you help us?" = "Will you not help us?" = "Will you help us?" – Peter Nov 16 '16 at 9:54
  • 1
    Using negatives in a yes-no question, especially a contracted form can be interpreted the same as the positive ("Won't you help me?" == "Will you help me?") but often with a different emphasis or expected answer. – eques Nov 16 '16 at 15:54

As Peter explained in the comments, the core meaning of "Won't somebody help?" is actually "Will somebody help?" That is, both are asking for help.

The core difference is in the connotations:

"Will somebody help" is a simple request for assistance.
"Won't somebody help" is both a request for assistance and a statement / complaint that you have been needing help for a while, but nobody has helped you yet.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.