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

  1. Lyrics to a song.
  2. Lyrics of a song.
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Surely you put lyrics to music to make a song. Therefore, lyrics and music make a song. –  Jodrell Aug 25 '11 at 13:55

2 Answers 2

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.

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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.

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I'd back it up. –  Jodrell Aug 25 '11 at 14:02

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