Listening to an english song, I noticed the following sentences:

"We was hitchhiking down..." (1:15) https://youtu.be/_lK4cX5xGiQ?t=75

"Be you angels?" (2:36) https://youtu.be/_lK4cX5xGiQ?t=155

Why is it not: "We were hitchhiking down..." and "Are you angels?"

Is this grammatically correct or is it more used to "style" the language in a certain way?

2 Answers 2


I believe there are two different reasons for each of the lines you quote, despite them coming from the same song.

Remember this is a comedy rock song - so don't take it too seriously.

We was hitchhikin' down a long and lonesome road

You are correct that the proper grammar would be "we were hitchhiking...". This is an example of colloquial speech, imitating a particular kind of localised American dialect. This kind of language is popularised in country music and so I believe this is used here to invoke that kind of imagery, as parts of the song appear to be a pastiche of country music with the story-telling lyrics and acoustic guitars.

Be you angels?

Again, you are right that this is not grammatically correct in modern English - but it is in imitation of Old English, or Early Modern English, the kind sometimes used in folklore tales. In this particular song these words are supposedly spoken to them by a demon they meet in the road. Early Modern English is the language used in the King James translation of the Bible - for example at Ephesians 4:32 the old English translation is "be ye kind to one another" - so I think they used it to invoke this kind of imagery.

  • 1
    The King James Bible is definitely not written in Old English. It's Early Modern English. Old English does not mean old-fashioned English, or English that's old. It's basically a different language that was spoken from about 450 to 1150 (the King James Bible was finished in 1611). The Lord's Prayer in the King James Bible: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Old English: Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum; Si þin nama gehalgod to becume þin rice gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
    – Juhasz
    Oct 16, 2018 at 15:39
  • @Juhasz Thank you, I have corrected the terminology in my answer. I'm sure this will help explain this comedy rock song.
    – Astralbee
    Oct 17, 2018 at 8:36

"Be you angels" is meant to invoke an older form of English from centuries past, since they're singing a ballad reminiscent of the so-called English Border Ballad.

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