Miley Cyrus gets grammar lesson from Sufjan Stevens

Miley Cyrus will host Saturday Night Live on Oct. 5. Credit: Getty Images
Miley Cyrus needs to go back to school, according to Sufjan Stevens. Credit: Getty Images

Indie singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens has a bone to pick with pop star Miley Cyrus, and it has nothing to do with the foam finger. Stevens wants Cyrus to employ better grammar in her songs.

He wrote an open letter on his website to the starlet, and though he heaped praise on her artistic talent and compared her to William Faulkner, he did ask her to “Get It Right.”

Here’s the full letter:

Dear Miley.

I can’t stop listening to #GetItRight (great song, great message, great body), but maybe you need a quick grammar lesson. One particular line causes concern: “I been laying in this bed all night long.” Miley, technically speaking, you’ve been LYING, not LAYING, an irregular verb form that should only be used when there’s an object, i.e. “I been laying my tired booty on this bed all night long.”

Whatever. I’m not the best lyricist, but you know what I mean. #Get It Right The Next Time. But don’t worry, even Faulkner messed it up. We all make mistakes, and surely this isn’t your worst misdemeanor. But also, Miley, did you know the tense here is also totally wrong. Surely you’ve heard of Present Perfect Continuous Tense (I HAVE BEEN LYING in this bed all night long [hopefully getting some beauty sleep?]).

It’s a weird, equivocal, almost purgatorial tense, not quite present, not quite past, not quite here, not quite there. Somewhere in between. I feel that way all the time. It kind of sucks. But I have a feeling your “present perfect continuous” involves a lot more excitement than mine. Anyway, doesn’t that also sum up your career right now? Present. Perfect. Continuous. And Tense. Intense? Girl, you work it like Mike Tyson. Miley, I love you because you’re the Queen, grammatically and anatomically speaking. And you’re the hottest cake in the pan. Don’t ever grow old. Live brightly before your fire fades into total darkness.

XXOO Sufjan

We don’t know, Sufjan — we saw some fragments in your letter.


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