Do you realize?? The Flaming Lips and why an ‘s’ or a ‘z’ is not always so important in the grand scheme of things.*

One, two, three, four…

Shouldn’t that be ‘realise’ with an ‘s’ ? And can we ever justify two question marks like that? The answer to the former is no, not necessarily and to the latter is, obviously no, unless you’re The Flaming Lips and you’re revealing beautiful truths to all of us about our lives. Or you’re texting your friends. Or you think that the ‘wtf?’ you just wrote could do with a bit more emphasis. Just not in exams, OK?

The use of ‘the former’ and ‘the latter’ (i.e. the first and the second thing you mentioned in what you previously wrote) will help you to organise (organize?) and present your ideas in a formal style essay that you may have to write in an exam. Or maybe even in real life!

Returning to the former question – ‘realise’ or ‘realize’. It’s simply a question of British or American English. Am E uses the latter just as they use logic in other matters of spelling. The letter is z because the sound is the voiced /z/ not the unvoiced /s/, both of which are ways we pronounce the letter s. At C1 and C2 level it’s better to be consistent in your use of BrE or AmE but it’s nothing you’re going to fail an exam for. So you choose: organise, modernize, recognise, apologize…

Am I boring you? I apologise if so. Let’s get back to what brought us here. The lyrics of this here song touch on the subject of our own mortality and the fact that we will all one day lose each other. They do so in such a moving but still uplifting way that it’s hardly surprising that it’s been voted «The best song in the whole wide world ever» on numerous occasions. Well, in our house anyway.

«And instead of saying all of your goodbyes
Let them know you realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round»

There are probably more English lessons we could get from this song, but no greater lesson than the one this song carries. So I think we’ll just leave it here for now.

*’in the grand scheme of things’ is an idiom you can use to talk about seeing things from a wider perspective than we often do.

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