3

I am writing a poem and need to use the phrase "wrong from right" for the rhyme (...ight). Is "wrong from right" correct rather than using (teaching children) "right from wrong"

6
  • 3
    Right from wrong is more common than wrong from right, but both are grammatical. In any case, poets often bend or break the 'rules' of grammar to convey a particular effect or, as in your case, to create a rhyme.
    – Shoe
    Jun 23 '18 at 11:13
  • 1
    How about the lyrics to Michael Jackson's Black or White? They print my message in the Saturday Sun I had to tell them I ain't second to none And I told about equality and it's true Either you're wrong or you're right But, if you're thinkin' about my baby It don't matter if you're black or white
    – DJohnson
    Jun 23 '18 at 12:40
  • It worked for George Strait and Edmund Spencer.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jun 23 '18 at 14:06
  • 2
    It depends how you measure correctness. Using say 'span and spick' would be considered non-standard and either humorous, inventive, or ridiculous. Jun 23 '18 at 15:59
  • 1
    If Lord Byron could say "through thin and thick" for the rhyme, surely you can say "wrong from right". Jun 23 '18 at 17:03
2

The order of the words in your phrasing is not as common as its reverse, however it's still perfectly understood and grammatical.

That aside, it would also be quite acceptable on the grounds of poetic license:

The freedom to depart from the facts of a matter or from the conventional rules of language when speaking or writing in order to create an effect.

So long as it appears deliberate, rather than a mistake, it's fine.


This is not directly relevant to my answer, but I couldn't help but be reminded of it.

"In Love, His Grammar Grew," by Stephen Dunn:

In love, his grammar grew
rich with intensifiers, and adverbs fell
madly from the sky like pheasants
for the peasantry, and he, as sated
as they were, lolled under shade trees
until roused by moonlight
and the beautiful fraternal twins
and and but. Oh that was when
he knew he couldn’t resist
a conjunction of any kind.
One said accumulate, the other
was a doubter who loved the wind
and the mind that cleans up after it.

                                                   For love
he wanted to break all the rules,
light a candle behind a sentence
named Sheila, always running on
and wishing to be stopped
by the hard button of a period.
Sometimes, in desperation, he’d look
toward a mannequin or a window dresser
with a penchant for parsing.
But mostly he wanted you, Sheila,
and the adjectives that could precede
and change you: bluesy, fly-by-night,
queen of all that is and might be.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.