I was listening to various Disney songs, including "God Help the Outcasts", which got me wondering- why is there not a comma because of the direct address? From what I understand, if it's speaking about God in the third person, it should be "God helps the outcast", and if it's asking God to help the outcasts, it should be "God, help the outcasts". Is it grammatically correct without it and why?

2 Answers 2


God help the outcasts, God save the Queen, God save us all, God help us all and a whole slew of others are phrases where the main verb is in something called a subjunctive mood. Verbs in the subjunctive mood only work with bare infinitives (e.g. see is the bare infinitive form of the verb to see) regardless of whether the subject of the sentence is in the third-person singular or not. So, those phrases are not direct requests. At least, you're not directly addressing (thus no need for a comma since it's not a form of address) and asking God for help or whatever it is that you're asking him for. You're doing it rather indirectly. It's a statement that expresses a wish. What you're really saying can be paraphrased like this: if there is God and He hears us, I hope that he will be able to help us all.


Great question. This is an example of the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is an irrealis mood, and is used to express a condition that is either doubtful, wishful, or counterfactual in other ways.

To say

God help them.

is the same as saying

May God help them.

Where the "may" is dropped.

Some other similar and extremely common expressions are

God bless America.

God save the Queen/King.

This linguistic phenomenon has been discussed extensively. See discussions on ELU:

  • A similar example: "Heaven help us."
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 23:20

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