A Little Party Never Killed Nobody

ShakespeareLass

Senior Member
Hebrew
Hello everyone

There is this song of Fergie, "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody."

But I am a little bit confused - shouldn't it be a little party never killed anybody?

Thank you all.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    But I am a little bit confused - shouldn't it be a little party never killed anybody?
    It should if you are trying to speak standard English, Shakespeare Lass. I'll repeat what other members have said many times in this forum - don't use the lines from popular songs as models of good grammar. Popular songs and movies contain a lot of non-standard English.
     

    ShakespeareLass

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Thank you owlman5, actually i was listening to it and then found this mistake. I'm having no intention of learning from it, only learning what NOT to say.
    Thanks again!
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It is not really a mistake. It is a very common way of speaking which you will hear often in song lyrics and movies.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ShakespeareLass, it really all depends on how you want to be regarded, when you speak English.

    If you want to be thought of as an intelligent, well-educated person, say "a little party never killed anybody". If you don't mind being thought careless or uneducated, say anything you please that you've dragged up from some pop-song lyric; "a little party never killed nobody" is as good a start as any... :rolleyes: "Horses for courses" (= context is all).
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Hello everyone

    There is this song of Fergie, "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody."

    But I am a little bit confused - shouldn't it be a little party never killed anybody?




    Thank you all.
    Strictly speaking, you are right. But the double negative is not an uncommon slang form. The all-time great folk singer Woody Guthrie once write a song entitled I Ain't Got Nobody, with lyrics like these:

    I ain't got nobody, ain't nobody got me,
    I'm just like a little apple hangin' on a tree.
    Don't nobody want me I can plainly see,
    I ain't got nobody and ain't nobody got me.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Keith Bradford said:
    ShakespeareLass, it really all depends on how you want to be regarded, when you speak English.
    Keith Bradford said:
    If you want to be thought of as an intelligent, well-educated person, say "a little party never killed anybody". If you don't mind being thought careless or uneducated, say anything you please that you've dragged up from some pop-song lyric; "a little party never killed nobody" is as good a start as any...
    "Horses for courses" (= context is all).
    You know, there are those of us who are educated who nonetheless sometimes use a double-negative. There are far, far worse grammatical errors, and there are definitely things that bother me far, far more. I prefer "never killed nobody" to some of the pseudo-learned dreck I am sometimes forced to read, though I realize that is a personal quirk that not everyone shares.

    I do agree, however, that it may be difficult for a non-native speaker (and even some native speakers, for that matter) to figure out when it's OK to use non-standard speech and when it isn't. Care is needed, of course, but then that's the case with oh, so many things.
     
    Last edited:

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Really, Suzi? No, really?
    Yes, really, really really.
    It is a common enough feature in plenty of dialects and is not limited to lyrics. It is used intentionality, so it is not a 'mistake'.
    I took care to say, 'You'll hear it'. Which is not the same as telling a non-native speaker to use it.

    I'm always disappointed when people with an evident interest in language conflate dialect use with lack of education on the part of other speakers. Rather looks like a case of the pot and the kettle to me.
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Hello. I have not read all the posts, but I want to ask something. This may require its own thread, but here it is:

    Is the expression "a little party" correct? If so, is "a little" a determiner or adjective? "A little" is used before uncountable nouns, but the word party is countable.
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    A little party is just as good grammar as a little drink or a little boy. Little is an adjective in all three cases.
    Thanks for the reply :)

    One last thing. Let's take a little boy for instance. In this case, little defines the boy and a is an article. I guess the same applies to "a little party" as well.

    A party ---> A little party [However, "little" refers to the duration in this case]
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    A party ---> A little party [However, "little" refers to the duration in this case]
    I read "a little party" as "a little partying" (or just getting with the party, e.g. dancing rather that sitting around or not even going to the party) – nothing to do with the size or duration of the party. It's not dissimilar to "a little work never hurt anyone" or "a little weed never killed anyone."
     
    Last edited:

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Thanks for the reply :)

    You are right. It refers more to the activity of partying---taking alcohol, dancing until early hours of the new day etc.

    A little is said to be used before uncountable nouns, and the word party being a countable one drove me to think that way.
     
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