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In the Star Spangled Banner, the opening line/question is "Oh, say can you see..."

Is that grammatically correct? Why isn't it "Oh, say you can see...?"

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3 Answers 3

Statement "you can see" is reversed for a question "can you see".

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+1 for making explicit that it's a question, which was only hinted at in the other answers. – Nicholas Aug 6 '11 at 2:56

It's in the correct order.

From NOAD:

say ... exclam. informal used to express surprise or to draw attention to a remark or question: say, did you notice any blood?

So think of that line being punctuated as:

O, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?

It's the equivalent of "Tell me, does that ... etc."

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It's grammatically correct. It's like saying:

Wow! Say, can you do that again?

In the same way, in the anthem, "O!" is an exclamation, and "say" is being used as an interjection:

(used to express surprise, get attention, etc.)

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