English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've seen both being used interchangeably. Are both valid? Is only one correct?

  1. Lyrics to a song.
  2. Lyrics of a song.
share|improve this question
Surely you put lyrics to music to make a song. Therefore, lyrics and music make a song. – Jodrell Aug 25 '11 at 13:55
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This Google NGram indicates that both are in use, with "lyrics of a song" being more popular:

This phrasing may be more popular because "lyrics" is a property of a "song". That is a song has lyrics, so the lyrics are of a song because this is the possessive form. I think that both are sufficiently valid (as NGrams records use from a corpus of written material, which tends to be slightly more grammar-conscious than online works such as a blog), so you could use either and be understood.

share|improve this answer
First of all, nice graph but, does the frequency of usage have a relationship to correctness? – Jodrell Aug 25 '11 at 14:01

This is personal feeling, but I'd just like to say that:

"Lyrics of a song" is more correct. We usually say "words of a book", "works of an author", etc. That's because you're asking for something that belongs to another, therefore "of" should be used.

"Lyrics to a song" is correct in its own way, but shouldn't be used when asking for the words of a song. "Lyrics to a song" should only be used when referring to someone giving words to a song:

John put lyrics to the song.

That's personal opinion, and I don't really have any sources or links or rules to back me up. Maybe someone else has.

share|improve this answer
I'd back it up. – Jodrell Aug 25 '11 at 14:02

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.