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Sorry for my bad English.

I was listening the music Seaside Rendezvous from the Queen and in this song Freddie Mercury sings this phrase, but the correct way to write wouldn't be "You say you will if you could but you can't"?

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    Better would be, “You say you would if you could, but you can’t.”
    – Jim
    Jan 21, 2017 at 4:06
  • Or “You say you will if you can, but you can’t.”
    – Jim
    Jan 21, 2017 at 4:41
  • The band's name is "Queen," not "the Queen" ... and songwriters have something known as poetic license, which means they ain't gotta follow no grammar rules nohow. So there ain't no "correct" way to write a song.
    – Robusto
    Jan 21, 2017 at 5:29
  • As these are lyrics from a song, then poetic licence applies. Virtually any order of words are correct! Re-compose: "How can I comply when.....(excuse)!
    – user215818
    Jan 21, 2017 at 6:51
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    Well, rock songs wouldn't be a good place to look for studying "correct" English.
    – Robusto
    Jan 22, 2017 at 4:40

2 Answers 2

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You say you will if you could but you can't

This is a strange kind of reported speech: if we think about what was actually said and add some quotation marks, it might be:

You say "I will if I can", but you can't - the second person will try to do it
You say "I would if I could, but I can't" - the second person will not even try to do it, because they don't think they can

So, there are two possible correct options for the strange-reported-speech version:

You say you will if you can, but you can't.
You say you would if you could, but you can't.

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I think this would be more proper:

"You'd say you would if you could, but you can't."

It goes to show that in lyrics and poetry, grammar goes right out the window...

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  • I was analyzing the sentence and a question came to me. Is it correct use "you'd" in this situation? and why? "you'd" does not mean you would? Thank you.
    – Eternus Von Luci
    Jan 21, 2017 at 14:27
  • You'd changes the meaning. It is a contraction of You would say, and the sentence then means: If you were able to say "you would", then you would say that, but you can't. That is not what the original sentence intends, and the first world should be You.
    – verbose
    Feb 22, 2017 at 0:33

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