I have a question regarding the sentence found in the song "Girlfriend in a coma" by The Smiths, and the song goes:

There were times when I could have strangled her
But you know,
I would hate anything to happen to her
Would you please let me see her...

Shouldn't the structure look more like this? :

I would hate if anything should to happen to her

Or is this just a shortened version of what I feel is correct? (I know that these are song lyrics, and it might just be that Morissey wanted the words to fit the rhythm of the song).

  • 2
    Also, "I would hate for anything to happen to her.
    – Jim
    Nov 28, 2017 at 17:42
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    Also I would hate it if anything were to happen. Nov 28, 2017 at 18:45
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    Whilst agreeing with @FumbleFingers, "I would hate anything to happen to her", is idiomatic.
    – WS2
    Nov 28, 2017 at 21:05
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    It's 'if anything should happen' - the 'to' is unnecessary.
    – Kate Bunting
    Nov 29, 2017 at 9:28
  • @Kate Bunting I would agree that there is more than one way to skin a cat!
    – WS2
    Dec 2, 2017 at 8:33

1 Answer 1


Your instinct is on point, the preferred, formal way to express this thought is "I would hate if anything were to happen to her." However, in everyday speech, an English-speaking person would likely say "I would hate for anything to happen to her." In this song, the word "for" has been omitted, but it remains understandable.

  • 1
    Worth noting that this phrase is used idiomatically as a threat. "Nice car you have there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it." Because it implies that there is a likelihood that something bad will happen to it. An English speaker wanting to avoid that implication would say something like, "I hope nothing bad happens to her." Dec 18, 2018 at 2:08
  • @BenJackson It can be a threat, but it doesn't have to be a threat. May 14, 2023 at 1:04

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