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You might know the song called The Way I Are by Timberland featuring Keri Hilson. I am very confused here. How does The Way I Are make sense?

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    Expecting pop lyrics to make sense is... optimistic :-)
    – user1579
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 12:48
  • I'm not whoever voted to close this, but the sentence "All the things that my high-school teachers have taught were a lie" did tempt me to vote to close for peeving. Perhaps explaining what confused you would make this question clearer for non-native English speakers reading it later on?
    – user1579
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 13:49
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    @Rhodri I think it explains the simplicity of the issue. If a person doesn't know that am should come after I, s/he shouldn't be here in the fist place. My comment is useless here because @Kosmonaut already took the sentence out from the question. This is the one thing I am not happy with stackexchange.
    – tugberk
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 14:04
  • On the contrary, people who don't know about number agreement are exactly the people who ask questions like this related one on this site. Your question could be more helpful to them.
    – user1579
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 14:38
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about song lyrics Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 20:42

3 Answers 3

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I am not familiar with the song, but that title is bad grammar.

I is singular. Are would go with a plural subject. Perhaps the songwriter is hinting at having multiple personalities? Perhaps they wanted to do some other kind of word play or indicate that "they way he is" is broken, but there is no way to defend that title as grammatically correct!

The grammatically correct version would be "The way I am."

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  • So, this is not something that we would like to use in our daily conversations?
    – tugberk
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 11:01
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    @tugberk: Absolutely not!
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 11:05
  • But you is singular, and yet one uses are with you.
    – nohat
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 15:54
  • @nohat: That's sort of correct, except that you can be both singular or plural. I was giving the general rule not the exceptions. In this case the suggested phrase is not an exception and just plain wrong.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 20:41
  • @Caleb my point is just that the verb be has the most complicated conjugation in English. By your logic, “the way I is” might be grammatical because is is for singular subjects and I is singular.
    – nohat
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 20:45
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Pop songs, and most forms of poetry, bend, break and totally ignore the rules of "proper grammar". See poetic license.

So yes, it doesn't match the rules, but that doesn't mean the rules are wrong --- just that they've been ignored.

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In the song's lyrics this mistake was made on purpose to rhyme it with another line.

Baby if you strip, you could get a tip
'Cause I like you just the way you are
I'm about to strip and I want it quick
Can you handle me the way I are?

The title probably just inherited it from the lyrics. Also there's one more such mistake in the text, in the line It don't matter 'cause I'm the one that loves you best. It should be it doesn't — again, probably was made to fit the line into the song.

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    Reading the lines you have quoted, I think it is more than just rhyming: it is a deliberate catachresis to bring out the chiasmus: "I ... you the way you are" ... "You ... me the way I are".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 11:31
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    And the "don't matter" is an utterly different case. "the way I are" is not grammatical in the sense that it is something that no native English speaker (of any variety of English, AFAIK) would say. "It don't matter", on the other hand is something that many speakers of many varieties of English often say: it is not contrary to English grammar, just contrary to certain arbitrary varieties which have been deemed proper.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 11:34
  • I agree with @ColinFine but the annoying thing is that the song would have worked with correct grammar! Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 2:33
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    Or to paraphrase your comment, @LesterCheung, the song would have worked if the writer had chosen not to write it in a version of English which they presumably found natural in the context, but in some other version of English which somebody has arbitrarily decided is "corrent gerammar". To which my answer is "Why on earth should they?"
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 18:36

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