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).

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Nov 29 '17 at 10:04

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • 2
    Also, "I would hate for anything to happen to her. – Jim Nov 28 '17 at 17:42
  • 2
    Also I would hate it if anything were to happen. – FumbleFingers Nov 28 '17 at 18:45
  • 1
    Whilst agreeing with @FumbleFingers, "I would hate anything to happen to her", is idiomatic. – WS2 Nov 28 '17 at 21:05
  • It's 'if anything should happen' - the 'to' is unnecessary. – Kate Bunting Nov 29 '17 at 9:28
  • @Kate Bunting I would agree that there is more than one way to skin a cat! – WS2 Dec 2 '17 at 8:33

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.

  • 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." – Ben Jackson Dec 18 '18 at 2:08

Your Answer

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