DISCLAIMER! This post is not meant to be offensive, it is merely poking fun at a current popular song. No comments are to be taken personally. 😉
Have you heard Ariana Grande’s popular song “Break Free“? If you have, maybe you, like me, wondered if you heard correctly – “Did she really just say, ‘I’ve become who I really are’?” No, you are not crazy. Yes, you heard correctly. As a matter of fact, here are the lyrics for that one snippet:
I only wanna die alive
Never by the hands of a broken heart
Don’t wanna hear you lie tonight
Now that I’ve become who I really are
For all those Grammar Nazis out there, you are not alone. I too cringe every time I hear this song. However, perhaps we should be sensitive to the possible reasons Miss Grande (or really her writers) chose to use the seemingly incorrect verb. Below I have listed the three possible reasons I can think of that justify “I are”:
1) The song is about schizophrenia:
This is the part when I say I don’t want ya
I’m stronger than I’ve been before
This is the part when I break free
‘Cause I can’t resist it no more
Miss Grande is breaking free of her mental illness. She is stronger than her alter ego and no longer wants her alter ego. The only hole I can find in this theory is the question of why she would still use the plural form of “is” if she is now a single ego. However, maybe she is telling a love interest she does not want him anymore because she has actually embraced her alter ego. That might make more sense.
2) For aesthetic and rhyming sake. However, the way she sings on the word “are”, could she not just say “am” instead? Or could the writers not just come up with a new line that rhymes and is grammatically correct?
3) Ariana Grande is a Modernist.”I are” is to be read metaphorically, and Miss Grande is breaking free of society’s chains, including language. To that I argue grammar rules are there for a reason and help us communicate more effectively. Your song is not the time for Modernistic rejection of grammar rules and experimentation with words. Nor do I really believe that was even your intent. I’m sticking with reason number two, as much as I like number one.
To Miss Grande and her writers, I quote Weird Al Yankovic when I say,
If you can’t write in the proper way
If you don’t know how to conjugate
Maybe you flunked that class
And maybe now you find
That people mock you online
I’m definitely tired of your word crimes.