General Writing and Grammar Help/"she can carry a note"


Dear Ted,
I know there is an expression "carry a tune". Can you also say "carry a note"? In other words, does the following sentence make sense and is it grammatically correct?
"She can carry a note."

Dear Glen:

The usual [I'd say about 95% of the time] is the expression "to carry a tune" or "cannot carry a tune."

"Carry a note" is also used, and so is "cannot carry a note."  

By the way, the negative forms are more widely used than the positive forms:  CANNOT carry is heard much more often than CAN carry.

Here is part of an article from a newspaper:

Rappers try to carry a note
In world of hip-hop, singing on tracks becoming common
January 21, 2003|By Craig Seymour | Craig Seymour,COX NEWS SERVICE

The author, Craig Seymour, was commenting on a concert performed by the rap artist, Eminem.  Seymour wrote that most rap "singers" cannot sing; they just read or shout out the words.  In this concert, Eminem actually SANG in tune to the music.  He was able to carry the notes.

I found another comment on the internet about a man who was tone deaf.  He could not sing "in tune."  The writer said that he was unable TO CARRY A NOTE IN A BUCKET.  The idea is that, even if a person has a large container like a bucket, he still is unable to carry a note or a tune.


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Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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