There is an interesting grammatical construction in the song Shout by Tears For Fears.

They really really ought to know

Those one track minds

That took you for a working boy

Kiss them goodbye

I'm interested in the phrase "Those one track minds" which for me sounds incorrect. It feels like there should be "That" instead of "Those". First, I though that they broke the rules because of the rhyme, but "That one tracks minds" would have fitted ok without braking the rhyme.

Is there an explanation of such usage? Is it grammatically correct?

  • 1
    Those is correct. It refers to those people with one-track minds”. Also, you are parsing it as connected to the first line. It is actually a new thought which connects to the third line. – Jim Nov 23 '18 at 22:31
  • That minds is not correct; it must be that mind or those minds. The demonstrative determinatives agree with the nouns they qualify in number. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 23 '18 at 22:34
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - How do you know they're not all of one mind? – Hot Licks Nov 23 '18 at 22:35
  • 1
    Thank you. Now I get it. I didn't know that "one-track mind" is an idiom. – Sasha Shpota Nov 23 '18 at 22:36
  • 1
    @HotLicks I don’t; wouldn’t make a difference if they were, though. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 23 '18 at 22:36

Note here that 'minds' is not a verb. It is not like saying he minds the shop while they're eating - it is a noun and the object of to know. one track should really be hyphenated because it's an idiomatic compound adjective. one-track originates from description of trains (see this page) and means that someone/something is repetitive or obsessed with something (i.e. their thoughts always return along the same track to the same ideas). Because one track is only an adjective, applying to minds, you can understand the pronoun those by removing this adjective. This way, you get those minds, which makes sense - I think the confusion here is just misapplication of the pronoun as applying to 'one' or 'one track'.

| improve this answer | |
  • But wait. See my comment at OP. – Kris Nov 25 '18 at 9:16
  • @Kris your reason that the post is off-topic Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified means that this is not off-topic; there is a specific source of concern clearly identified in the text ('that' vs. 'those'). Besides which, the question could easily be reworded to ask about any general phrase of that type, rather than that phrase as it is presented in a specific text. – Joseph Paduch Nov 25 '18 at 9:28
  • See the OP's comment above. So that explains everything. – Kris Nov 25 '18 at 9:34
  • Yes, he commented that after I answered that it was an idiomatic phrase. I don't understand why you want me to read your comment or his? – Joseph Paduch Nov 25 '18 at 9:38
  • 1
    You said 'see my comment at OP', and I did - it was not relevant to my answer. You said 'see the OP's comment above', and I did - it demonstrated that the person asking the question had accepted my answer. You said 'those is irrelevant in the OP's interpretation', which I don't agree with, but that still has nothing to do with me. Your comments so far don't quite make sense to me, I'm sorry. "Comments are used to ask for clarification or to point out problems in the post." Would you like to clarify anything? Is there anything wrong with my answer? – Joseph Paduch Nov 25 '18 at 9:54

Song lyrics like poetry use enjambment In poetry, "enjambment (/ ɛ n ˈ dʒ æ m b m ən t / or / ɛ n ˈ dʒ æ m m ən t /; from the French enjambement) is incomplete syntax at the end of a line; the meaning runs over from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation," Wikipedia. The meaning of the last three lines is "Kiss goodbye those one-track minds that took you for a working boy." But rock music like poetry gains power by slicing things up and moving them around, to both fit the music and provoke the listener. Grammar and syntax don't much obtrude, and likely for the best. Had Jagger and Richards ran their song by the English Stack Exchange, we would now have (I Can't Get Any) Satisfaction. Would you buy the album?

| improve this answer | |

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