I was listening to a piece of music from Joan Jett called "I hate myself for loving you" and she sang:

"Hey, man, bet you can treat me right. You just don't know what you was missin' last night."

Why "you was"? It supposed to be "you were"?

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, Drew, Scott, Cascabel, vickyace Apr 19 '17 at 10:19

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  • 3
    Song lyrics tend not to be good examples of proper grammar. Your supposition is probably correct. – Davo Apr 18 '17 at 18:21
  • Related: Singular you - “you was” or “you were”? – sumelic Apr 18 '17 at 18:23
  • 1
    It is not "supposed to be" you were. It is what is: you was, which is considered "non-standard" by the people who decide what the "standard" is. – AmE speaker Apr 18 '17 at 18:27
  • Because song lyrics are written by illiterates. – Ricky Apr 18 '17 at 18:34
  • 4
    It's a song lyric. As a general rule, song lyrics are off-topic here, as Hot Licks says. Brian May, I think it was, when asked about the meaning of the lyrics of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', responded 'What meaning?' (OWTTE). – Edwin Ashworth Apr 18 '17 at 22:22

The Financial Times has an article with Alan Sugar's use of "You was" on the UK's The Apprentice as its starting point. It later discusses how speakers often use

"code-switching", changing grammatical constructions depending on the context. [...]

Hopefully it is "fair-use" to quote a short snippet of the long article:

"It seems you was a prophet," he [Sugar] told one contestant during the final of this year's The Apprentice. Critics have asked why the BBC, as a supposed guardian of the language, allows this sort of thing.
To some, this merely proves that poor education knows no boundaries. But in their study "Was/were variation: A perspective from London" , Jenny Cheshire and Sue Fox of Queen Mary, University of London, write that those who say "you was" have history on their side. "You was" is hundreds of years old.

It has been used in many parts of the English-speaking world. "You was" appeared in Tristan da Cunha and in New Zealand in the 19th century. It is common in parts of the eastern US today, as well as in England. Older people use the construction as much as teenagers do. Sometimes older people use it more. In Birmingham, researchers found that older people were more likely than adolescents to say "you was". "You was" appears, too, in the south-west of England, East Anglia and in Sir Alan's native east London.
- michael.skapinker@ft.com

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