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Protest vocabulary Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Culture, English Vocabulary

Living in the capitol city of the United States, Washington, DC, I see and hear a lot of different protests. Protesters often come from around the country and the world to meet together in this city to make their wants and desires about political, systemic and environmental change known. Today I thought I would introduce you to some vocabulary related to protesting and some common protest chants in English.

First, some vocabulary:

rally – a meeting of a large group of people to protest or show support for a cause

picket – to protest in front of a specific location ,often with signs or posters, often to stop people from entering a location

signs and posters – large printed pictures or statements that people carry with them as they protest

march – a large moving protest that starts in one location and moves to another

flyers – pieces of paper with messages (related to the protest) written on them that are given out to inform others about the protest cause

chants – A repeated rhythmic phrase that is shouted or sung by a crowd

Now some common English protest chants. Chants often rhyme, but they don’t always. The first few chants I have listed are commonly used in protests and changed to meet the message of the protest.  Where there are blanks below you have to use your imagination to think about what someone might say depending on the cause they are protesting for or against.

No, no we won’t go. or Hell no we won’t go.

What do we want? _________ When do we want it? _________

Hey, hey! Ho, ho!  _________ has to go!

Here are some specific chants from protests, so you can see how basic rhythmic chants can be adjusted depending on the message.

What do we want? U.S. Out!
When do we want it? Now!

Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Big oil has to go!

1, 2, 3, 4 – We won’t pay for this war,
5, 6, 7, 8 – We will not cooperate.

We the people, demand our rights,
We won’t give up, without a fight!

Have you heard any other protest chants? Please share any chants you know in the comments box below.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.