Does it sound unnatural to you (natives) when people skip 's' ending of the verb in 3rd person? Heard it many times (e.g. in 50 cent songs - she go, she have, etc.) and always wondered how much it sounds ok.

  • 14
    There is no way that one should take a rap song as the Queen's English.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 8, 2016 at 1:58
  • 18
    It ain't sound unnatural to me. It sound like a rap song.
    – user24743
    Mar 8, 2016 at 3:14
  • no, it doesn't sound unnatural at all. it's aave, which is very commonly heard in the states.
    – user428517
    Mar 8, 2016 at 17:31
  • "And what's the good of an escape If honour find him in the wintry blast?" Verses 56/57 of William Butler Yeats` `A Dialogue of Self and Soul´ (1927)
    – Tedin
    Aug 22, 2020 at 12:13

5 Answers 5


That's a common detail in the variety of English where they do that, e.g. one that 50 Cent and many rappers use, namely AAVE.

In AAVE, in particular, in the present tense you don't inflect for number or person (which is a long fancy way of saying that the one item you do inflect in standard English, present 3rd person singular, you don't in AAVE)

It is not common for a newscaster to speak that way, but is perfectly natural sounding informally (if you're speaking AAVE). But if you just drop that one thing into your speech (making sure you're following the rules the right way) it'll still sound weird if you don't have the accent and the other aspects.

If you are a language learner, you will want to avoid this, because presumably you will want to simplify your learning of English and only learn one variety, most likely the standard general American variety. But if you find that you are speaking with others frequently who speak this variety AAVE or nearby AAVE, then try to learn all their slightly different rules.

  • 1
    Also a feature of Jamaican English
    – mdewey
    Aug 22, 2020 at 15:32

This is a grammatical characteristic of African American Vernacular English (AAVE):

Present-tense verbs are uninflected for number/person: there is no -s ending in the present-tense third-person singular. Example: She write poetry ("She writes poetry"). Similarly, was is used for what in standard English are contexts for both was and were.


It sounds perfectly natural to me when spoken by those speakers of a particular dialect in which the third person singular does not use "s." If Queen Elizabeth were to speak that way, it would sound decidedly unnatural.

  • Downvoter, please comment.
    – phoog
    Mar 8, 2016 at 14:46

I'd ground my kids for talking that way. No, it's not proper English. Yes, it is a part of hip-hop society and so is wearing your pants half down the crack of your butt. It's a rebellious sounding way to talk. Please don't talk like that in a job interview or anytime you want to impress someone.

  • 10
    What if you're interviewing with or otherwise trying to impress 50 Cent?
    – phoog
    Mar 8, 2016 at 14:47
  • 3
    it's certainly proper aave english. this answer is a bit puzzling.
    – user428517
    Mar 8, 2016 at 17:30
  • 4
    This answer might belong on Parenting.SE, or possibly on the ESL SE. Not sure it belongs on a linguistics-oriented SE. Mar 8, 2016 at 19:39
  • phoog - by all means, if you are trying to impress 50 cent, then try to break even more English rules. :)
    – user2281135
    Mar 8, 2016 at 21:51
  • sgroves - response wasn't addressing AAVE, it was only responding to the topic question. Had the question asked about a language other than English, I would not have responded.
    – user2281135
    Mar 8, 2016 at 21:54

From the King James Bible: "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: [...]". It would have been similarly possible to say "Cast he the first stone who is without sin." though not even the KJV version does it like that.

Bible aside, there are subjunctive mode uses of the third person which are correct (though a bit quaint these days) without "s" (or without the Early Modern English equivalent "th").

That is, however, not the usual grammatical construct employed by rappers.

  • 5
    Yes, dropping the 's' is the form of the present subjunctive 3rd person singular (common in KJV English but not common in Modern Stanfard English these days), but I don't think the OP's quote is the subjunctive.
    – Mitch
    Mar 8, 2016 at 14:11

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