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From The Doors, Light My Fire. The lines are:
"Try now, we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre."

I would never hold their lyrics up as great writing, but I have always wondered exactly what this means. My understanding is:

"Try now, we can only lose
And our love (can only) become a funeral pyre."

So using a conjunction to link a different subject and a different main verb sharing the same modal verb. Like, e.g.,

"The machine would stop and the bell ring." or
"I will go and he replace me."

Which don't sound like things anyone would say. I have, however, heard things like:

I need to nod my head and you to hit it. or
I want to eat and you to sleep.

Or is it a form of subjunctive? But it doesn't seem to fit any other example of a subjunctive.
As a native English speaker, for many years I just understood he was saying "...and our love (can only) become a funeral pyre," as in, that's the worst that could happen, which is better than not trying any sex or drugs at all. But I can't come up with a single other example of a conjunction being used to distribute a modal between two different subjects with two different main verbs.

  • 'I want to eat and you to sleep' has another existence as an atrocious zeugma. / Your first example is probably best ditched; lyrics are notoriously hard to decipher, grammar-wise and meaning-wise. I'd guess it is supposed to mean 'The worst that can happen is that we lose, when our love will become a glorious pyre' (I'll leave the metaphor well alone). // I'm not totally happy with any examples I can think of which involve a deleted second occurrence of a modal, but some ... – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '18 at 16:53
  • are worse than others. *'I may enter and you not.' // */?'I will go and he replace me.' // 'I need to stay here and eat and you to leave.' //// 'Spurs may win and Chelsea lose.' and your 'The machine would stop and the bell ring.' are perhaps out by less than a question mark. – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '18 at 16:53
  • are worse than others. *'I may enter and you not.' // */??'I will go and he replace me.' //??'I need to stay here and eat and you to leave.' //// 'Spurs may win and Chelsea lose.' and your 'The machine would stop and the bell ring.' are perhaps out by less than a question mark. – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '18 at 18:43
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You can Google and find a number of hits for

men must fight and women weep,
men must fight and women work,

but they are outnumbered by the same phrases with must after women.

What does this mean? My guess is that it means some people find these constructions grammatical, but the majority of native English speakers don't.

  • Interesting example. That could simply be present tense, but probably not. – Chuckk Hubbard May 26 '18 at 16:39

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