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To lie/to lay

(9 Posts)
nonmifairidere Tue 17-Sep-13 18:59:24

'Chasing Cars' by Snow Patrol is a lovely song, ruined by the ungrammatical chorus. Surely it should be 'If I just lie here'? To lie is a continuous action. I'm no grammatical whiz, but I rule in pedantry, so I am beatific having just found this little corner of MN. Apologies if this has already been picked over.

nonmifairidere Tue 17-Sep-13 19:43:04

Anyone? I hope you are not ignoring me because I am new. Maybe I should go back to bothering the AIBUers, then? Are you all off having your tea? Hello, anyone out there?

MirandaGoshawk Tue 17-Sep-13 20:46:23

We're here! I remember trying to explain this to an EFL student and failing. Someone will be along in a mo...

They are separate. I am lying down is different from 'I laid the baby in the cot'. Possibly different verbs.

So I agree with you, but can't really explain why.

nonmifairidere Tue 17-Sep-13 22:24:05

Thank you, Miranda.

TinyPop Wed 18-Sep-13 14:38:49

This takes me back to foreign language learning - we're talking about transitive and intransitive verbs here.
It's either "to lie (down)" or "to lay something (down)" -
to lie (down) is intransitive because it has no object (i.e. you can just say "I'm lying down" on its own), and to lay (something) down is transitive because it has an object, i.e. the "something" part (you can't just say "I'm laying" - you have to say what you are laying).
You can't "lie" something down in the same way that you can't "lay" yourself down.
They often get confused because the past participles (lain and laid respectively - "I had lain down for a moment" and "I had laid the table") sound similar.

HorryIsUpduffed Wed 18-Sep-13 14:55:23

In the song it's right, because it's conditional. They are using "lie" in the conditional.

If I lay here, if I just lay here,
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?

Substitute "sit" or "stand", and it's still perfectly comfortable.

If I sat here ... would you sit with me and just forget the world?

TinyPop Wed 18-Sep-13 15:58:37

Sorry Horry is right, having seen the rest of the lyrics above blush blush, however the whole lie/lay issue is something that often gets mixed up for the reasons I mentioned too, when not used in the conditional sense.

HorryIsUpduffed Wed 18-Sep-13 17:51:50

What Tiny said was completely right. Unfortunately the song, despite being right, confirms some people in their erroneous use of "lay" for "lie".


Cooroo Thu 19-Sep-13 22:46:12

I was worried for a moment there as it never sounded wrong to me. What a relief to have it explained! Nice one, Horry.

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