Okay, let's start with a big disclaimer: we here at Scribendi recognize that fiction often plays with the rules of grammar. Often, sentences will be written in grammatically incorrect ways to communicate facets or backgrounds of certain characters, their dialect or speech patterns, and the context of the actual writing. We understand that playing with language can provide a unique experience for a viewer.
All of that said, we compiled a list of famous movie quotes that are technically grammatically incorrect. Our list isn't meant to prove people wrong or to be obnoxious. It's all in good fun and can be an interesting way to learn about grammar. If you like fun little lists like these, please enjoy our list!
Grammatically Incorrect Movie Quotes
Movie: Good Will Hunting (1997)
Quote: "How do you like them apples?"
Why it's wrong: Here, we see an incorrect pronoun used with "they." Of course, Will is using a well-known idiom, so the grammatical incorrectness of this one can be chalked up to conventions of the English language. Instead, this sentence should use a demonstrative pronoun: "those."
Corrected version: "How do you like those apples?"
Movie: Sudden Impact (1983)
Quote: "Go ahead, make my day."
Why it's wrong: This one's more of a problem with the way this quote is often cited. Actually, the quote is grammatically correct in the script. However, it's often cited with the comma instead of a period, which separates the two independent clauses. As such, a comma splice is created. Not pretty!
Corrected version: "Go ahead. Make my day."
Movie: The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Quote: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."
Why it's wrong: Placing a comma after "close" creates a sentence fragment, since "but your enemies closer" is not an independent clause. This is another one that's written correctly in the script but often cited incorrectly, probably due to the pause Al Pacino creates when speaking the line.
Corrected version: "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer."
Movie: Soylent Green (1973)
Quote: "Soylent Green is people!"
Why it's wrong: It's wrong to eat people, but it's also wrong to phrase this sentence this way. There are definitely words missing from this quote. As it reads, the sentence is pretty awkward, in the same way a statement like "Hamburger Helper is cows!" might sound a little weird.
Corrected version: "Soylent Green is made from people!"
Movie: King Kong (2005)
Quote: "It was beauty killed the beast."
Why it's wrong: If this phrase sounds awkward to a native speaker, it's because it's missing an article, at the very least. "The" should proceed "beauty." However, the sentence would read a lot more naturally if we inserted "that" between "beauty" and "killed," which is possibly why the original included "that" in the quote.
Corrected version: "It was the beauty that killed the beast."
Movie: This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Quote: "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."
Why it's wrong: Okay, so this one obviously has a lot of errors, including beginning a sentence with a conjunction and the use of "none" here. However, we're listing it to cite the incorrect use of the absolute adjective "black." An absolute adjective cannot vary in intensity, so Nigel is right when he says the vinyl can't be any blacker!
Corrected version: This one can't be corrected because black cannot be compared.
Movie: The Dark Knight (2008)
Quote: "Why so serious?"
Why it's wrong: In this quote, we're completely lacking a verb! However, this phrase has been used in this way for at least three centuries, even being cited in poetry and songs, and is a common colloquialism, so we guess we can cut The Joker a break this time!
Corrected version: "Why are you so serious?"
Movie: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Quote: "It's a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart."
Why it's wrong: Similar to the last example, this quote neglects to use "that" with the restrictive modifier. Without "that," the sentence reads a little awkwardly at best. Alternatively, you could cut "it's" and simply begin the sentence at "a fool."
Corrected version: "It's a fool that [or who] looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart."
Movie: Citizen Kane (1941)
Quote: "Old age. It's the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don't look forward to being cured of."
Why it's wrong: The first problem with this is that the first "sentence" is actually a sentence fragment. This can be easily remedied by changing the period into a colon. The second problem is a little more difficult. Ending a sentence with a preposition is one of those grey areas of grammar that's becoming more commonly accepted. In casual situations, it's generally alright to do, but it should be avoided in formal writing. In fact, in casual conversation, the "correct" version might be viewed as more awkward. Take a look.
Corrected version: "Old age: it's the only disease, Mr. Thompson, of which you don't look forward to being cured."
Movie: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Quote: "I shrunk the kids."
Why it's wrong: Not only is the quote incorrect in this case, but so is the movie's title! Both use the technically incorrect (though very commonly misused) past participle of "shrink." Humorously, this error can also be found in the sequential titles, including Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves.
Corrected version: "I shrank the kids."
Movie: Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
Quote: "Get back, you eight legged freaks!"
Why it's wrong: Funnily enough, this is another movie that suffers from a grammatically incorrect quote and a grammatically incorrect title. The compound modifier, "eight legged," requires a hyphen when it precedes "freaks."
Corrected version: "Get back, you eight-legged freaks!"
If you're writing your own script, you should consider having it edited by professionals to avoid mistakes like the ones in these famous movie quotes. Maybe you can think of famous movie quotes that we missed. If so, feel free to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!
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