Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Annoying Song Lyrics #1

I was listening to John Barrowman’s album in Hayley’s car yesterday on the way home from work. That’s a strange enough sentence to begin a blog post by itself, but that’s a story for another day, perhaps. Track 2 on the album is a cover of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. I’ve heard many different versions of this song by a variety of different artists, but I always seem to enjoy listening to it. The one thing really annoys me about the lyrics is something that not all artists do (thanks Muse), but most of them do. This is what I’m talking about:

You’re just too good to be true,
Can’t take my eyes off of you

I absolutely hate the pairing of the words ‘off’ and ‘of’ like that. In this case the title doesn’t even match the line that’s in the song!

99% of the time the word ‘of’ can be omitted or both words can be replaced with the word ‘from’ which is shorter to say and has the added advantage of not making the speaker sound like a 5 year old who hasn’t quite learned to speak English properly.

6 thoughts on “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Annoying Song Lyrics #1

  1. The song lyrics would suck if they were ‘can’t take my eyes from you’ or ‘can’t take my eyes off you’ not enough syllables…and the second variant sounds like your eyeballs are actually on the person…

    There is no rule in English that states the words ‘off’ and ‘of’ should not be used together, it’s just your own personal preference. And your rule doesn’t even work anyway, what about if someone is standing on your garden wall? Using your rule you would say:

    ‘Get from my wall’

    Which would make you sound like a dick, or:

    ‘Get off my wall’

    Which would make you sound common. Whereas any normal person that could speak English properly would say:

    ‘Get off of my wall’

    English. Don’t knock it if you can’t speak it.

  2. The lyrics make perfect sense using only the word “off” and your suggestion that it implies the eyes are actually on the person applies just as much (that is to say: not very) if you use “off of” anyway.

    According to the usage entry for “off”:

    The phrasal preposition off of is old in English, going back to the 16th century. Although usage guides reject it as redundant, recommending off without of, the phrase is widespread in speech, including that of the educated.

    “Get from my wall” is obviously bad English, as you pointed out, but “get off my wall” is perfectly valid English.

    Take a look at these Google results for Project Gutenberg searches:

    “Get off my” – 175 results.
    “Get off of my” – 1 result.

    You might want to take some notice of your own advice. You might also want do half as much research as I did before posting in future. 😉

  3. I did no research, it was an opinion based on my knowledge and use of the English language.

    As my comment points out, it very much depends on context as to which is ‘correct’; as you agreed, ‘get from..’ is certainly no substitution for the words ‘off of’ or even the word ‘off’ when talking about the wall. I am prepared to accept that dropping ‘of’ is sensible in most cases (except in song lyrics)

    Here is a fun quote which proves both of us correct:

    “It is not the function of linguistics to prescribe how language should be used, though scholars of linguistics do from time to time defend a descriptive approach to grammar. Students of linguistics stand to normal speakers of a language as ornithologists stand towards birds, the one may describe speech, the other birdsong. Neither is necessarily expert about how speakers ought to say things or how birds ought to sing.”

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