Dua Lipa: global phenomenon, uber-talented singer, unrequited love interest of our very own Duo the owl. And it goes without saying that the one and only Dua (sorry, Ms. Lipa) is also a total boss!

For you see, a quick glance at her lyrics reveals the undeniable fact that Dua Lipa likes telling people (usually men) what to do. That's great news for anyone who wants to learn how to give instructions and orders in English. Just sing along 🥳

Let's look at some “boss” language from four of the biggest hits of her career.

1. Houdini (album: Radical Optimism, 2024)

I come and I go
Tell me all the ways you need me
I'm not here for long
Catch me or I go Houdini

In this song, Dua warns her lover that unless he expresses his appreciation for her, she’ll free herself from the relationship, like the great escape artist Houdini.

These lyrics have two very clear examples of giving instructions in English: Tell… and Catch… Just use the verb in its basic (or "bare") form, with no need to change it in any way. It couldn't be more simple! 

Whatever verbs you know in English also work as instructions:

  • Sit here.
  • Be quiet!

Notice how the Houdini lyrics also include the word or to express consequences. The line Catch me or I go means “If you don't catch me, I’ll go.” This is a useful structure for all sorts of instructions and warnings, and it generally sounds more natural if the second verb is preceded by will

  • Sit here, or you’ll have to sit on the floor.
  • Be quiet, or I'll give you extra homework.

2. Don’t Start Now (album: Future Nostalgia, 2020)

Don't show up, don't come out
Don't start caring about me now
Walk away, you know how
Don't start caring about me now

In Don’t Start Now, Dua is at a club dancing, and she doesn’t want her ex to show up (to suddenly arrive) or to come out (to join her at the club). She reminds him that he didn’t care about her when they were together, so why start now?

The lyrics include great examples of how to give negative instructions (like Don’t show up): Simply use the word don’t before the verb. Again, there’s no need to change the verb in any way 🙌

  • Don’t sit there!
  • Don’t be late.

And of course, it’s common to combine negative instructions with affirmative ones. After all her don’t instructions, Dua tells her ex to Walk away (to go to a different place). Similarly, you might tell your friend:

  • Don't sit there. Sit with us!
  • Don’t be late. Arrive early!

3. New Rules (album: Dua Lipa, 2017)

One, don't pick up the phone
You know he's only calling 'cause he's drunk and alone
Two, don't let him in
You'll have to kick him out again ...

In the song that launched Dua to superstardom, she makes a list of rules about how to get over an ex-boyfriend: ignore his calls, don’t allow him to visit your house, and so on.

The lyrics show examples of negative instructions using don’t + verb, but they also show how to follow an instruction with a reason. For example, Dua says don’t pick up the phone when your ex calls, and then explains the reason—he’s probably just drunk and lonely 😈

You can use this structure to give instructions in a way that sounds really natural:

  • Don’t sit there! That chair is broken.
  • Don’t be late. The taxi will be here at exactly 8pm.

4. Levitating (album: Future Nostalgia, 2020)

You can fly away with me tonight
You can fly away with me tonight
Baby, let me take you for a ride
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm levitating

Unlike the previous songs, Levitating isn’t about ending a relationship—it’s about starting one! Dua sings about how falling in love can feel like levitating (floating) or flying into outer space!

The lyrics also show some structures that help soften instructions. Dua tells her new lover You can fly away with me (meaning “We can go on this space trip together”). By using You can… before the affirmative verb, the instruction becomes gentler, almost like a suggestion. For example, an instruction like Sit there! sounds friendlier as You can sit there!

Similarly, Dua tells her new love interest Let me take you for a ride (meaning “I’ll take you to a special place”). By using Let me… before a verb, you can show that you’re not just being bossy—you’re willing to help. For example:

  • Sit down! Let me get you a chair.
  • Don’t be late! Let me book you a taxi for 8pm.

Sing along to your next English lesson!

The next time you need to be assertive in English, channel your inner Dua. Thank you, Ms. Lipa, for the language lesson. If you ever feel like helping out at the Duolingo office, there’s one large, green member of staff who’d be extremely excited to see you 🥰