Gransnet forums

Pedants' corner

Laid, laying.

(78 Posts)
mrsmopp Tue 27-Nov-12 20:23:41

I was laying on the sofa. I wanted to lay down.

Don't hens lay eggs?

Doesn't anyone know the difference?

It's annoying!

Anne58 Tue 27-Nov-12 20:26:56

I would say "I was lying on the sofa" But if someone joined me I would say "he lay down beside me".
That probably doesn't help confused

tanith Tue 27-Nov-12 20:30:57

I would say lying too.. laying just isn't right.

Anne58 Tue 27-Nov-12 20:40:05

However, isn't there a hymn or bible reading about "laying down your burden" ? In that case "lie" doesn't seem right

janeainsworth Tue 27-Nov-12 20:43:55

mrsmopp Two different verbs, the verb to lay (hens) and the verb to lie (people)
Hens lay eggs. People lie down. (Present tense)
The hen laid some eggs. The people lay down on the beds. (Past tense)
The hens were laying some eggs. The people were lying on the beds (past imperfect)
Sorry, but you did put it in pedants' corner and I have no doubt that someone, probably absent, will be along very shortly to correct me grin

Elegran Tue 27-Nov-12 20:50:59

You lie down, but you lay down something else. You can lay a table or an egg. You can get laid (if you get lucky)

The past tense of I lie is I lay - as in "I lie here in my bed now, just as I lay there yesterday" (lazy cow)

Then there is telling fibs - in that case it is "I lie today, and I lied yesterday"

What a language!

Ana Tue 27-Nov-12 20:52:00

Yes, and the same rule would apply to 'laying down your burden' - the burden would in the past tense have been 'laid down'.

Elegran Tue 27-Nov-12 20:54:18

There's a prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep ....."

That must be using the verb transitively, with the "me" as the object.

Or poetic licence, sneaking in the "me" to get the line to scan.

nightowl Tue 27-Nov-12 21:14:41

Or to complicate matters still further 'even ducks don't lay down'. Though perhaps they lay down yesterday.

kittylester Tue 27-Nov-12 21:16:55

Sat and sitting is a similar annoyance! grin

Elegran Tue 27-Nov-12 21:19:56

Lovely image nightowl there of a duck sitting in a nest, producing down by the pillows-worth, like a spider spinning a web.

nightowl Tue 27-Nov-12 21:23:30

So glad you liked it Elegran, I can't remember where I heard or read it but it has helped me to remember the use of the verb. I will have that lovely mental picture to add to it now as well! smile

Ana Tue 27-Nov-12 21:31:41

'Now I lay me down to sleep' could also be a shorter version of 'Now I lay myself down to sleep'.

Faye Tue 27-Nov-12 22:06:13

I think it is actually lay the table and I am lying in bed. I know I wrote late last night on the iPad section that I was laying in bed, but I am not a fork I am a person, so I should have written I am lying in bed. blush

nightowl Tue 27-Nov-12 22:10:37

Faye grin

mrsmopp Tue 27-Nov-12 22:35:58

I brought it up because so many people get it wrong. It must be very difficult if first language isn't English. Our language is full of pitfalls.

Anne58 Tue 27-Nov-12 22:49:31

Bloody hell, I bet your average chicken would rather lay an egg then a table!

Makes the eyes water just to think of it.

Granny23 Tue 27-Nov-12 23:04:31

Glad you brought this up mrsmopp - I too find it very annoying. Another current usage that sets my teeth on edge is 'floor' for 'ground' i.e. 'I tripped on the pavement and was laid on the floor' - No!, No!, No! [shudder]

petallus Tue 27-Nov-12 23:07:53

My head's reeling.

I think I'd better go and lie/lay down on the floor/ground grin

Ana Tue 27-Nov-12 23:12:00

Or lay/lie yourself down in bed? grin

nightowl Tue 27-Nov-12 23:16:15

Just don't start laying down or you run the risk of suffocation.

Ana Tue 27-Nov-12 23:18:35

Can't you lay yourself down on your back? confused

nightowl Tue 27-Nov-12 23:28:45

I think you can Ana but you can't lay down on your back. You have to lay something down. It can be yourself or an object. But you can only lay eggs or tables. Your choice grin

Ana Tue 27-Nov-12 23:30:36

So, you could lay down on your back if you were a down-laying, contortionist duck? grin

nightowl Tue 27-Nov-12 23:33:02

I've confused myself now.

It's what Elegran said about transitive and intransitive verbs. Don't know where floors and grounds come into it or sat and sitting. Help confused