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I'm a non-native speaker who's writing lyrics for a song. The line I'm having difficulties with is as follows:

Oh, how I would pray Emily to stay.

Is this alright, or could this be interpreted as grammatical in some sense? I know we would usually use a preposition there but I don't have room for another syllable. Changing the verb is also not an option, as I need the rhyme stay/pray.

Is this grammatically correct?

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    I pray you, don't worry about having a preposition. It's a bit more Shakespearean, but "I pray you" is essentially a flowery way of saying "please" and I think the line would work as written. – John Clifford Nov 22 '16 at 15:27
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    ... It can't, though, be considered as an equally idiomatic variant of 'How I would pray that Emily stayed'. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 22 '16 at 15:31
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I think the answer you are looking for here I'm afraid is no. In order to use pray in its archaic sense (as a call for action, or a request)

Pray - a forceful way of saying "please"

Although I imagine someone somewhere has used the word in such a fashion, it sounds awful and I can find no documented use of it without a preposition or following verb.

Perhaps then you should pray for some inspiration...

Perhaps you could use one of the following words... (does it need to rhyme with stay?)

  • Oh, how I would beg Emily to stay
  • Oh, how I'd plead with Emily to stay
  • Oh, how I'd urge Emily to stay

or perhaps a similar line...

  • Oh, how I wished Emily would stay
  • Oh, how I prayed Emily would stay

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