Your servant am I

Winston92

New Member
Español
Hello everyone! I have some doubts about the following sentence: "Your servant Am I". Why "am I" and not "I am"? Is it an informal use of the language? Is it gramatically correct? As far as I knew "am I" is used for questions.

Context (rolling stones' song):

"My sweet Lady Jane
When I see you again
Your servant am I
And will humbly remain"
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    "Your servant am I." is old-fashioned grammar. It is correct, but nobody would say it in 2021.

    Maybe it is used in the song because the number of syllables and the
    stressed/unstressed syllable pattern match the music. That is common
    in poetry, and song lyrics are poetry. The bold are stressed syllables:

    My sweet Lady Jane
    When I see you again
    Your servant am I
    And will humbly remain

    The whole song seems very old-fashioned, and would seem odd in 2021.
    Saying you are someone's "servant" is old-fashioned. Men said that to
    women often. Old-fashioned letters used to end with:

    Your humble servant,
    Richard


    instead of:

    Yours truly,
    Richard
     

    Dosamuno

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    It's called inversion and grammarian Bryan A. Gardner doesn't like it:

    "Awkward are most, though not all grammatical inversions (like the one that begins this sentence.)...

    "...like the atmospheric inversion that is blamed for smog, the inversion of sentences creates a kind of linguistic smog that puts the reader to work sorting out the disarranged elements, causing his eyes to smart, and perhaps makes him wish he were reading something else.... Straining for variety in sentence structure is usually the cause. Tired of starting with the subject and adding the predicate, some writers make a mighty effort and jump out of the frying pan and into the smog."
    (Roy H. Copperud)

    From Garner's Modern English Usage, pp.126—127
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Inverted (the usual form for a direct question): "Am I your servant?"
    Verb second (the old fashioned word order, still common in other languages): "Your servant am I."

    The verb-second word order is still required when a sentence begins with a negating adverbial:

    "Never am I your servant.":tick:
    "Never I am your servant.":cross:
     

    Winston92

    New Member
    Español
    Thank you so much for your answers! You have not only clarified my doubts, but you have also given me useful and accurate information.
     
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