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Pedants' corner

Lay or lie?

(73 Posts)
lizzypopbottle Sun 04-Mar-18 15:59:31

As far as I'm concerned 'to lay' is a transitive verb used with a direct object e.g. The hen lays eggs. 'To lie' (not meaning tell an untruth) is an intransitive verb used without a direct object e.g. I lie down to sleep. If I lay down in bed, I did it last night, i.e. past tense of the verb to lie. I might lay a book down, in which case the book is the object so 'to lay' is fine. If I tell someone to lay down, that's wrong but it's creeping in to everyday speech and writing. I don't like it.

yggdrasil Sun 04-Mar-18 16:51:14

It is an old construction at least 300+ years old.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

lizzypopbottle Sun 04-Mar-18 16:55:16

Then 'me' becomes the object in the sentence.

lizzypopbottle Sun 04-Mar-18 17:02:36

The offending sentence was, 'This pillow lets you lay down with your glasses on.'

janeainsworth Sun 04-Mar-18 17:15:07

Agree with you lizzie. The sentence you quoted is wrong.

Greta Sun 04-Mar-18 18:48:04

You are correct, lizzie. The sentence should have read "This pillow lets you lie down..." 'Lie' is an intransitive verb.

It annoys me when the verb 'enjoy' is used on its own. Instead of saying e.g. "Enjoy your meal" so many people now say and write 'Enjoy'.

rockgran Sun 04-Mar-18 19:09:05

I agree, Lizzy. Don't get me started on lay/lie. It is very annoying - I blame song lyrics!

teifi Sun 04-Mar-18 19:15:36

It's surprising to me how quickly 'lay down' rather than 'lie down' has become accepted as the norm, even by older people who must be used to the original use of lie (to lie down) and lay (to place something down, or lay an egg). I suppose it is a little confusing that 'lay' is also the past tense of 'lie'. I've even heard on the BBC a presenter describing islands which 'lay off the coast of Scotland' - (presumably they still do?). It really grates with me, but I suppose is American English and very catching.

Marydoll Sun 04-Mar-18 19:44:13

The one I dislike is "I'm, sat here", instead of "I'm sitting here".

giulia Sun 04-Mar-18 20:08:23

Bob Dylan: "Lay lady lay. Lay across my big brass bed."!!
It's his fault.

Marydoll Sun 04-Mar-18 20:26:53

giulia smile

lizzypopbottle, I agree with you, but language is evolving all the time, so one day that structure may become the norm. After all, eventually we won't be here to keep everyone right. grin

grumppa Sun 04-Mar-18 21:01:08

And there was I thinking Bob Dylan was apostrophising his pet chicken.

MissAdventure Sun 04-Mar-18 21:05:45

Is that legal? shock

Parsleywin Sun 04-Mar-18 21:16:42

I agree, Lizzy.

I've also had a nice chuckle!

sue01 Mon 05-Mar-18 09:37:36

Haha giulia - our daughter was conceived whilst that was playing !

yggdrasil Mon 05-Mar-18 09:44:10

Marydoll The one I dislike is "I'm, sat here", instead of "I'm sitting here".

Lot's of people seem to have trouble with this one, but it is local dialect over a lot of the West from Gloucestershire southwards.

paperbackbutterfly Mon 05-Mar-18 09:49:08

I agree. It should be 'lie'.
My pet hate at the moment is 'for free' .
What do you think? Shouldn't it just be 'free'? As in
"buy one get one (for) free"?

Katek Mon 05-Mar-18 10:12:36

Yes, yes, yes!! ‘For free’ drives me mad! My other pet hates are using ‘floor’ instead of ‘ground’ and things that ‘need doing’ instead of ‘need (to be) done’

grandtanteJE65 Mon 05-Mar-18 10:13:14

The lay- lie business gets my goat too, but then so does any other Americanism encroaching on British English!

I hate "it's a given" - a given what? And what annoys me even more is I just cannot remember what we said before "it's a given" made its way across the Atlantic. I think we said "it's a foregone conclusion", anyone out there to back me up on this?

"for free" standing joke when I was a child was that something was "free, gratis and for nothing"

EmilyHarburn Mon 05-Mar-18 10:15:59

The misuse of lay grates but it seems that it is common usage for younger people.

Coco51 Mon 05-Mar-18 10:22:11

The end of civilisation as we know it...

GabriellaG Mon 05-Mar-18 11:00:25

I'd say that at leat 50% of people of all ages, have no idea how to spell or use correct punctuation and grammar.
The words myself and yourself are frequently used instead of me and you.
You was, instead of you were.
The list is endless and I find illiteracy to be incredibly irritating, especially in adults who, presumably, had an education.

annifrance Mon 05-Mar-18 11:22:35

Oh giulia, one of my favourites, brings back such memories. Sod the grammar!!!

marionk Mon 05-Mar-18 11:25:06

Totally or totally like is my bugbear, as in “it was totally like awesome” oh and don’t get me started on the awful awesome!!

oldgaijin Mon 05-Mar-18 11:46:05

The supermarkets have only just managed to cope with fewer/less, as in 10 items per basket. 'For free' seems to be the next worthy campaign. Another rile is 'I have went' or, even worse, 'I was learned'....gggrrrrrrr!