Friday, April 9, 2010

Lay it on me! Or is it lie?

I'm going to tackle, with no padding or helmet, the fearsome "Lay versus Lie". I murder this nugget of grammardom often. So here I teach myself, and if others learn, so be it!

1. The verb "to lie" is when a person reclines in the horizontalish position.
2. The verb "to lay" always involves an object that is put down. Physically, that is. We are not insulting the object!

First off, Present tense.
1. George lies on the bed.
2. George lays the book on the table. Or, I lay the book down. Here, there is always an object being put down. An easy way to remember? "The chicken lays an egg." Though the meaning is different, luckily it still works as a handy reference. It never sounds right to say, "The chicken lies an egg." There's always an object.

Past tense.
1. George lay on the bed. Oh crap. Here's where it gets confusing. Because past tense of "to lie" is the same word for present tense of the verb "to lay", see above. Also, it's triple confusing when you say "George lay down on the bed" Because we often follow "lay" with "down" and the slurring of the words makes it sound like "laid down". In conversation, who cares. On paper, "laid down" is wrong. Also, there is no such thing as "lied down," either, so chuck them both far, far away.
2. George laid the book on the table.

Past participle. Stay with me! Drink a cappucino if you need to!
1. George had lain on the bed for hours, unable to understand his grammar lesson.
2. George had laid the book on the table before he collapsed from a grammar stroke.

Here's a handy-dandy reference from the FreeTeach website.

I have a headache! Good luck!


Nisa said...

lol! I loved your title for this post! It gave me a good chuckle. And what a handy chart! I'll have to check freeteach out. (Especially since I'm starting to homeschool next fall!)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Ouch, my head hurts too. lol. Excellent post though. I'm off to brush up on my grammar :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Excellent reference. Thanks, Lydia. =o) As a reader, I don't notice when an author makes this mistake, so I don't think much about it in my own writing. As I finish editing this WIP, I'll pay more attention to it.

Bee said...

Sheesh, oh, sheesh! I need to go back to my grammar classes.
For some reason, this post made me laugh so much, my head hurts now.

Cynthia Reese said...

A grammarian after my own heart! I always remind The Kiddo: people lie, chickens lay.

And it's true. I've never seen a lyin' chicken! :-)

Jaydee Morgan said...

Wow - it's far too early in the morning for a grammar lesson :)

However, I love that chart! I'm know it will come in handy. Now, where's my coffee?

Valerie Geary said...

Look at you... being all helpful and stuff. :)

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Damn those past participles!! *shakes fist* LOL. Great post!

Talli Roland said...

That's great, Lydia - thanks! This is one that always trips me up so I really needed the reminder!

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Oh, I hate trying to figure that stuff out. :P Thanks for putting up this reference. :D

Kirsten Lesko said...

Why is this so hard for me to retain? I can't tell you how many times I've tried to learn this. I'm just going to bookmark your post & come back to it every time I need it. :)

lbdiamond said...

Yes, this is good! I think I got it. Thanks!

Jana Hutcheson said...

Thanks for the reminder. I teach school and this is still confusing sometimes! :)

Shelley Sly said...

Excellent post! I always have trouble with this one. Thanks for spelling it out. :)

Lisa and Laura said...

Is it terrible that I STILL don't get it. Grammar is NOT my strong point. Thank goodness Laura's a former English teacher. Otherwise I'd be a hot mess.

Sandy Shin said...

This has always been one of those things that have to look up every single time. Thank you for the succinct and easy to remember chart!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

There is a murder scene blogfest going on. Come check out my entry. It is from my fantasy Titanic- mystery :

Carl said...

Thanks for the chart! Now I can finally lay this to rest. Um, right?

Deb Salisbury said...

LOL! This is one of the few rules I still have trouble with. Thanks for the chart!

Lydia Kang said...

You got it Carl!

India Drummond said...

Ooh the chart is helpful. It's one of those things I always have to double-check, because it never sounds right, whichever word I use!

Thanks for posting this!

Stephanie said...

Ha! I should print that out and post it somewhere!

Stephanie said...

Lydia, sorry I couldn't find your email to get back to you on your post with the pendant. You're in! Thanks for commenting.

I'm okay with spiders, as long as they don't surprise me. Finding one on you is the worst! Gives me the shivers thinking about it.

Have a great day!

Danyelle said...

Great explanation! I can never remember all the technical grammar stuff by name, so this really helped. :D

Medeia Sharif said...

I needed this. Sometimes I forget the difference.

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