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Well, I listened to a song and heard it's said in the text "He don't know how to..." I think a song artist used this phrase for better sounding. Am I right? Correct me if I'm wrong, and please explain to me what the difference is. Upd. skilled users gave me an advice to give more examples for for better clarification . so I do. This phrase was taken from lyrics of song by Billie Eilish (my boy). Here is a part of this lyrics

My boy's being sus' and he don't know how to cuss He just sounds like he's tryna be his father (Who are you?) My boy's an ugly crier but he's such a pretty liar And by that I mean he said he'd "change"

  • Nick, you're a new contributor, so I'm answering this question for you even though it lacks the appropriate research. Fair warning, though, you may get dinged by fellow users for failing to provide examples or the exact context you're referring to. If you ask what someone meant, Stack Exchange rules require you to provide a reference, to source the citation. I'm not flagging this, but know that it wouldn't surprise me if this gets flagged or put on hold. The way to avoid that would be for you to provide references. Also, there may be duplicates, but you're a new, so I'm answering anyway. – Benjamin Harman Mar 31 at 12:25
  • It's common street/rural slang. Nothing remarkable in a song. – Hot Licks Mar 31 at 12:25
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"He don't" means "he doesn't." I'm not sure what you mean by "the artist used it for better sounding." If you mean that the artist did it to fit the word into the rhythm by eliminating a syllable, that seems unlikely. If you mean that the artist did it to make the song sound grittier or more natural to the voice or character(s) portrayed in the song, then, yes, that seems likely.

Using "he don't" for "he doesn't" is informal English and particularly used in certain dialects. You hear it in cockney, a London dialect. You also hear it in ebonics, a dialect of African Americans. It is not limited to these dialects, but the usage is very often associated with being working class or low class because the dialects that use it tend to be working class or low class.

While the usage is longstanding, hundreds of years old even, it remains widely frowned upon as being illiterate, an indicator that the speaker lacks education. I say "widely" because that isn't always true as even Harvard grads have embraced this usage in their own day-to-day speech as part of embracing the dialect of their heritage. Nevertheless, when it comes to mass opinion, if there are degrees of informality, saying "he don't" is regarded as highly informal, teetering on vulgar albeit not profane.

Incidentally, you also see it used in eye dialects, in fictional writing that uses spellings and phrasings that reflect how a character actually talks or thinks. Mark Twain used "he don't" quite prolifically in books like Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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    And you hear it quite often in reruns of the old "Andy Griffith Show" on US TV. – Hot Licks Mar 31 at 12:27
  • @HotLicks -- Yes, thank you. I almost added that its used in America's Southern dialects quite often, as well. I left it to one example from America and one example from the US, though, because I didn't want to be seen as being politically incorrect and targeting anyone. Anyway, that is another huge example, and now that you bring it up, it is very much worth acknowledging. – Benjamin Harman Mar 31 at 12:31
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    Yes, the "Andy Griffith Show" was quite popular in its time, and drew very little criticism from any direction (other than the community of English teachers). – Hot Licks Mar 31 at 12:33
  • Answering on Benjamin's question.I used " for better sounding" I meant for better rhyme – Nick Mar 31 at 12:49
  • @Nick -- Yes, it could've been used for rhyme, albeit probably not exclusively for that reason. To know if it was used for rhyme, though, to answer that question, I'd have to know a larger context than what you provided because "don't" doesn't rhyme with anything in what you provided. – Benjamin Harman Mar 31 at 12:55
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Yes, it's usually done for better sounding as you put it. There are many such incorrect phrases in the songs of Pink Floyd too, for example:

I don’t care if the sun don’t shine (Jugband Blues)

  • Answering on Benjamin's questio. Using " for better sounding" I meant for better rhyme – Nick Mar 31 at 12:46
  • @Nick well you should have meant for better scanning, as it is a much better scan, it has ne effect on the rhyme by itself as the rhyme is cuss with 'sus – WendyG Apr 1 at 10:10
  • Yeah, but you should listen to her music and if she used "does" instead "do" it would sound worse. That's what I mean – Nick Apr 2 at 11:44

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