Tag Archives: language

lay vs. lie.

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Word choices: lay vs. lie 

when looking up the eternal lay vs. lie question, (similar to the chicken vs. egg conundrum), this is what i found. i started out strong, but as i kept reading, it really only served to confuse me more, and my level of understanding dropped with each new sentence of explanation and i had to lay or lie down. warning: do not try to read this when lying or laying down. 

Imagine your friends are over for a movie night, and they’ve brought a tray of brownies to share. You take the platter from them — but do you tell them you’re going to “lie” it down or “lay” it down? And will you all “lie” down to watch the movie, or “lay” down? It’s an age-old question: What is the actual difference between “lay” and “lie”? When do you use one over the other?

Why are “lay” and “lie” confusing?

To clarify: We’re not talking about the kind of lie you might tell when you call out of work or don’t finish your homework on time. We’re talking only about the setting/reclining meaning of the verb.

“Lay” and “lie” are often confused because both words are about people or objects positioned horizontally on a surface. But they are used to refer to different scenarios.

It can be quite simple — if you’re in the present tense. The past tense is when things really get confusing, since the past tense of “lie” is “lay” (sorry). But don’t worry, we’ll give you a few easy tips to help you along.

When to use “lay” vs. “lie”

“Lay” is a transitive verb. Transitive means that you have an object that is being acted upon. So “lay” means to set down or place something — an object — in a horizontal position. Here’s an example in the present tense: “I lay the book on the nightstand.” In this instance, the book is the object that is having something done to it.

“Lie” is an intransitive verb, meaning the object doesn’t need something else to put it down. Instead, the person or subject is doing the action. “Lie” means to stay at rest in a horizontal position, or to recline. An example of “lie” in present tense would be, “I feel the wind as I lie in my backyard on the grass.” In this example, the person is performing the action rather than having the action done to them.

So, in the present tense, the simplest way to determine which word to use is by looking at what is actually being reclined. If the reclining object is inanimate and/or requires someone to put it down, use “lay.” If the object is self-sufficient, such as a person, use “lie.” Quick memory tip: Only a person can lie on a bed and tell a lie.

“Lay” and “lie” in other tenses

 Let’s tackle the past tense of each, since that’s where there’s the most opportunity to pick the wrong word.

I ____ my clothes out last night before I went to bed.

Which one is it — “lay” or “lie”? Here’s how to tell: Is something happening to an object? Yep! The clothes are being set out. That tells us that we need the verb “lay,” past tense “laid.”

I laid my clothes out last night before I went to bed.

Now, what about the past tense of “lie”?

I heard a noise coming from the basement as I ____ on the sofa watching a horror movie.

In this example, there is not a specific action being performed upon an object. Rather, the speaker (the subject) is doing the action. This means we need the past tense of “lie,” which (confusingly) is “lay.”

I heard a noise coming from the basement as I lay on the sofa watching a horror movie.

Still confused? Don’t worry. You won’t get reprimanded too much if you mix these up in verbal conversation. But for written communication, it helps to practice with examples so you can be confident in your word choice.

(not me, but i was doing this after trying to figure this explanation out)

“the greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

 

source credits: wordgenius, grammarly

the history of how you felt.

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 loving my new journals and so looking forward to filling them

 

“language allows us to reach out to people, to touch them with our innermost fears, hopes, disappointments, victories.

to reach out to people we’ll never meet.

it’s the greatest legacy you could ever leave your children or your loved ones:

the history of how you felt.”

-simon van booy

 

nursery rhymes.

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“read to your children all of the time

novels and nursery rhymes

autobiographies, even the newspaper

it doesn’t matter; it’s quality time

because once upon a time

we grew up on stories in the voices in which they were told

we need words to hold us and the world to behold us

for us to truly know our souls.”

-taylor mali

in honor of world nursery rhyme week

 

 

 

 

image credit: 1930s vintage etsy art

twitterpated.

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word of the day:  twitterpated

part of speech: adjective

origin: American English, 1940s

  1. infatuated or obsessed
  2. in a state of nervous excitement

 

Examples of twitterpated in a sentence:

“‘Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime.’ — Bambi (1942)”

“The family is all twitterpated as they pace around the waiting room for the announcement of the new baby.”

 

When was the last time you were twitterpated?

 

 

“words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart.”

-william shakespeare

flowery language.

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today the water flowers spelled out their words in cursive writing

what do you think they were saying?

 

“can we speak in flowers? it will be easier for me to understand.”

-nayyirah waheed, Salt 

 

 

furstenberg park, ann arbor, michigan, usa –  june 2020

to the poets.

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Wole Soyinka, playwright, poet and Nobel Laureate, reads an original poem written for children at the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Celebrating the linguistic expression

of our common humanity

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.

In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

A decision to proclaim March 21 as World Poetry Day was adopted during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999.

One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

The observance of World Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity. As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in.

“poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

-robert frost

 

 

 

credits: photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten, UNESCO

grandiloquent.

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we all know that person

who uses pretentious words as a means to impress

which generally results in the opposite effect

like when someone uses the word ‘grandiloquent’ in a sentence.

GRANDILOQUENT

part of speech: adjective

origin: latin, late 16th century

definition:

speaking or expressed in a lofty style, often to the point of being pompous or bombastic.

related words:

sentence examples:

Even though Rick did not understand the grandiloquent words, he still used them to impress his wealthy friends. 

When I heard the salesman’s grandiloquent speech, I knew he was trying to make the car deal sound better than it actually was.

 

“i am trying to impress myself. i have yet to do it.”

-shia labeouf