English in the Beatles’ Yesterday

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so faraway

  • faraway (adjective) (literary) – a long way away: This land is faraway. It’s such a faraway place.

Now it looks as though they’re here to stay

  • to be here to stay – to stop being unusual, become accepted as normal: I hope unemployment is not here to stay. Blogging is here to stay.

Oh, I believe in yesterday

  • If we believe in something, we think that an idea is good or right: I believe in love/marriage/real friendship.

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be

  • In this context “half” means “a lot”: I am a lot different from who I was. Another example: I spend half my time doing housework.

There’s a shadow hanging over me

  • Here a shadow symbolizes darkness, worries, and uncertainty. If, for example, a cloud hangs over you, it’s literally above you:
cute-cloud-rain-cartoon

There’s a cloud hanging over me!

So, the man means that his life is full of worries and uncertainty, troubles that are here to stay.

 

Also, if you have something hanging over your head, it keeps bothering you: I have a credit card payment hanging over my head.

Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go – I don’t know

She wouldn’t say

I said something wrong

Now I long for yesterday

  • If you long for something, you want it very much: It’s so cold! I long for a cup of tea! I secretly long for this event.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play

Now I need a place to hide away

Oh, I believe in yesterday…

GRAMMAR IN THE SONG

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so faraway

Remember the seem patterns:

  • To seem + adjective + to sb (this pattern is used in the song): This article seems good to me.
  • To seem + like: It seems like a good idea.
  • To seem + to do sth.: You really seem to care about what you do.
  • To seem + to be + sth./sb.: You seem to be a good man. This computer seems to be a good one.

Now it looks as though there here to stay

  • As though = as if: Do I look as though I’m desperate? It sounds as though you had a lovely night.

I’m not half the man I used to be

  • We use “used to + infinitive” when we talk about past situations ¬†that are no longer true: He used to be a singer. I used to be happy. We also use “used to + infinitive” to talk about regular past actions that don’t happen now: I used to have business trips very often. I used to take this bus every morning. I used to write a lot of letters.

She wouldn’t say

  • Would” is a modal verb. To be more precise, “would” is the past simple form of the modal verb “will”. And one of its functions is showing willingness. So, if you say that someone/something wouldn’t do something, it means why were not willing to do it: They car wouldn’t start this morning. My mother wouldn’t let me go to parties. She was kind and would always help people.

Now, let’s listen to the song again: