What Does ‘Sweet and Sour’ Mean in Ed Sheeran’s Song ‘Shape of You’

What Does ‘Sweet and Sour’ Mean in Ed Sheeran’s Song ‘Shape of You’

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When I first heard Ed Sheeran’s Song ‘Shape of You’, I intuitively thought that by ‘sweet and sour’ he meant ‘good and bad’.

But then later I checked the phrase in a dictionary, and it turned out that it literally means sweet and sour sauce or taste.

I put the phrase into Youglish and everything I got was related to cooking. Nothing about ‘good and bad’.

At the same time, talking about how something tastes doesn’t make any sense in the context of the song:

“We talk for hours and hours about the sweet and the sour”.

I doubt that two young people talked about sweet and sour sauces on a date. I mean they are not food bloggers.

So, I asked my colleague, who is an English teacher.

She said that by ‘sweet and sour’ he surely meant the ‘good and bad’ things in life. “But I’ve never heard someone use this expression in this context”, she added.

“If someone wants to express ‘we talked about everything’ as ‘the sweet and the sour’ I think that would be very poetic. And everyone would certainly understand what it means,” she said.

Another word that has similar meaning is ‘bittersweet’. It’s a term that means ‘good and bad’ at the same time.

For instance, “it was a bittersweet moment” or “a bittersweet experience”.

Meaning of Thrifty

‘Thrifty’ and ‘eat all you can’ are other useful words from this song that we can use in our day-to-day speech.

Thrifty is an adjective that means being careful with money or resources.

The synonyms for thrifty are frugal, prudent, economical.

And if you’re not thrifty that means that you’re wasteful or that you squander money.

For instance, ‘thrifty‘ (or ‘thrift’) can be used like this:

  • My family wasn’t rich, that’s why I was thrifty for many years.
  • They usually buy things in a thrift store, where prices are low.
  • For years my parents were very thrifty so they could send us to college.

You can also use it when you talk about plants.

Linda chose water-thrifty plants.

All you can eat

An all-you-can-eat buffet or restaurant is a place where you pay a fixed price and can eat as much as you want of anything that is offered in the buffet.

So the characters in Ed Sheerans’s song were thrifty, because they went to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Here’s the line:
“You and me are thrifty, so go all you can eat
Fill up your bag and I will fill up a plate”.

Here are some more examples with ‘all you can eat’:

– The bar has an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch for $10.

– An all-you-can-eat Okami Japanese Restaurant is coming to Canberra.

If you like learning vocabulary with songs check out this quiz with the words from musical hits or this one with the latest slang for online dating.

If you can’t get the lyrics of an English song, share the name of the song in the comments and
I’ll do my best to unravel that mystery for you.

Photo by Drew de F Fawkes

English Language enthusiast, the founder of about-english.com and Speaking Club host.
I help English learners to boost their speaking skills and confidence.

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