New vocabulary and grammar: a list of songs to help you learn English
When learning English like in war, all is fair. Therefore, you do not need to sit only with textbooks or watching movies. Combine all techniques and don't forget about songs - they will help replenish your vocabulary and pump your grammar. Edition FluentU has compiled a list of 21 such songs.
If you are a supporter of active language learning, then listen to songs and sing along. In the description of each song you will find a link to a video clip and lyrics. In general, whatever method you use to learn songs in English, you will definitely learn something from them.
1. Friday I'm in Love, Spanish. The cure
- Subject: Days of the Week
2. We're Going to Be Friends ”, isp. The white stripes
- Subject: School and Childhood
You will come across words such as learn to spell, books, pens, and uniforms.
3. You're My Best Friend, Spanish. Queen
- Subject: Friendship
The song says that even when times were hard, a friend was always there (you've stood by me girl) in any circumstances (in rain or shine). And when the world becomes cruel (Whenever this world is cruel), a friend helps me to understand and forgive (help me forgive).
4. I've Been Everywhere, isp. Johnny cash
- Subject: Places and Geography
The hero of this song is a tramp who hitchhiker and tells the truck driver who gives him a ride about where he has been.
5. Just a Girl, isp. No doubt
- Subject: Gender Relations
In this song, the band's vocalist Gwen Stefani complains about the stereotypes of society in the perception of women, who are considered weak and dependent on men. These stereotypes in the song are symbolized by the pink ribbon - a pink ribbon that the heroine asks to remove in the very first line, and in the chorus says I've had it up to here !, which can be translated as “I'm fed up”.
6. Bad Luck, isp. Social distortion
- Subject: Superstitions
7. Black or White, isp. Michael jackson
- Subject: Tolerance
8. Don't Mug Yourself, isp. The streets
- Subject: British English Slang and Pronunciation
Two typical purely British expressions that you will not hear in America: the verb fancy in the meaning of like (likes, likes) and oi (exclamation with which you can interrupt the interlocutor or attract attention).
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9. Dust in the Wind, isp. Kansas
- Grammar topic: Present Simple Tense
The song says that a person has no power over his life or death. We are just dust in the wind. Almost all of the lyrics are written in simple present tense. Here are typical examples:
- All my dreams pass before my eyes
- Don't hang on, nothing lasts forever
10. Since You've Been Gone, isp. The outfield
- Grammar topic: Present Perfect Tense
This song is perfect for learning Present Perfect tense from it. It is used for actions that began in the past and continue in the present. Note that the auxiliary have in the present perfect tense is often used in an abbreviated form (for example, I've instead of I have).
Some examples of Present Perfect in the lyrics:
- Since you've been gone
- I've just been fooling around
- You're not the only girl I've ever had
11. And She Was, isp. Talking Heads
- Grammar topic: Continuous / Progressive Tenses
Here are some examples of using Present Continuous in a song:
- She's making sure she is not dreaming (two examples)
- Now she's starting to rise
And here are examples of Past Continuous times:
- She was lying in the grass
- The world was moving
- She was drifting through the backyard
12. Summer of 69, isp. Bryan adams
- Grammar topic: Past Simple Tense
Here are some examples of using the simple past tense in a song:
- That summer seemed to last forever
- We needed to unwind
And here are examples of irregular verbs in Past Simple:
- I got my first real six-string, [I] bought it at the five and dime
- We were young and restless
- When you held my hand, I knew it was now or never
13. Ready to Run, isp. The dixie chicks
- Grammar topic: Future Tenses
Some examples of the future tense in the song Ready to Run:
- I'm gonna be ready (the “going to” form, which is informally pronounced “gonna” sometimes)
- I'll buy a ticket to anywhere (future simple)
14. We Can Work It Out, isp. The beatles
- Grammar topic: Modal Verbs
Modal verbs are so common that you will come across at least one in every song. I like the song We Can Work It Out by The Beatles, which has a lot of modal verbs, for example:
- Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
- Our love may soon be gone
- We can work it out
- Only time will tell if I am right
15. Always On My Mind, isp. Elvis presley
- Grammar topic: Modal Verbs with Perfect Infinitives (Perfect Modals)
What English textbooks call perfect modals, or past modals, is a modal verb combined with a perfect infinitive of a semantic verb (“have” + past participle).
- a modal + have + past participle
In this song it is:
- Maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should have
- Little things I should have said and done, I just never took the time
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16. Thinking Out Loud, isp. Ed sheeran
- Grammar topic: Conditionals
Some examples of the first type of conditional from the song:
- When my hands don't play the strings the same way, I know you will still love me the same
- When your legs don't work like they used to before [...], will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?
17. If I Were A Boy, isp. Beyoncé
- Grammar topic: Conditional sentences of the second type (Second Conditional)
A perfect illustration of this theme is the song If I Were A Boy, sung by Beyoncé. It is about how society would treat the heroine of the song if she were a boy, not a girl. Basically, this whole composition is one big conditional sentence of the second type. For example:
- If I were a boy, I think I could understand how it feels to love a girl
- If I were a boy, I would turn off my phone
18. If It Hadn't Been For Love, isp. Adele
- Grammar topic: Third Conditional
Almost all of the song consists of conditional clauses of the third type, for example:
- I never woulda hitchhiked to Birmingham if it hadn't been for love (“woulda” is an informal way to say “would have”)
- I woulda been gone like a wayward wind if it hadn't been for love
19. Hope You Never, isp. Tom petty
- Grammar topic: Hope Phrases
It's a sad breakup song, but it also has phrases about hope, like:
- I hope you treasure your independence
- I hope you never fall in love with somebody like you
20. Stressed Out, isp. Twenty-one pilots
- Grammar topic: Wish Phrases
To help clarify this topic, listen to Twenty-One Pilots' song Stressed Out, which includes examples of these sentences:
- I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words
- I wish I didn't have to rhyme every time I sang
- I wish we could turn back time to the good ol 'days
21. Simple Man, isp. Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Grammar topic: Reported Speech
The meaning of indirect speech is that you retell someone's direct speech in your own words. It is important to remember: if the words of the author are in the past tense (for example, he said), then the indirect speech must be consistent with them, that is, also stand in the past tense.
- Mama told me when I was young, “Come sit by me, my only son, and listen closely to what I say, and if you do this, it'll help you some sunny day.
This is direct speech, but if you translate it into indirect, you get something like this:
- His mother told him when he was young to go sit beside her. She told him to listen closely to what she said and that if he did that, it would help him some sunny day.
Try to translate all the speech in the lyrics of a given song from direct to indirect - it will be a great workout.
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