lie/lay

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MikeL
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lie/lay

Postby MikeL » 2005-09-04, 20:48

What is your usage with these two verbs?

In UK, Aust, NZ (at least in theory!) we have 3 distinct verbs:

(1) to lie (tell a falsehood); past tense and past participle: lied
(2) to lie (recline), intransitive; past tense lay, past participle lain
(3) to lay (set, put down), transitive, occasionally intransitive, e.g. of birds; past tense and past participle laid

Leaving aside the first one, which I think is fairly universal in all dialects, the interesting question is whether AE has a uniform usage in regard to lie/lay.
Would it be true to say that in most American dialects lay is used instead of lie?
E.g.: He was laying on the ground.
It seems to me that the forms that occur most often are the present continuous and past continuous tenses (is laying/was laying). What about the simple past? Lay? Laid/layed?

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Postby ZombiekE » 2005-09-04, 21:36

I use those rules. Let's wait and see what the American forum users say :)
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Re: lie/lay

Postby Kirk » 2005-09-05, 0:28

MikeL wrote:What is your usage with these two verbs?

In UK, Aust, NZ (at least in theory!) we have 3 distinct verbs:

(1) to lie (tell a falsehood); past tense and past participle: lied
(2) to lie (recline), intransitive; past tense lay, past participle lain
(3) to lay (set, put down), transitive, occasionally intransitive, e.g. of birds; past tense and past participle laid


We also have those forms in theory (that's the key phrase) but that doesn't necessarily match up with most speakers' usage.

MikeL wrote:Leaving aside the first one, which I think is fairly universal in all dialects...


Yeah I think the first one is universally the same.

MikeL wrote:...the interesting question is whether AE has a uniform usage in regard to lie/lay.
Would it be true to say that in most American dialects lay is used instead of lie?
E.g.: He was laying on the ground.
It seems to me that the forms that occur most often are the present continuous and past continuous tenses (is laying/was laying). What about the simple past? Lay? Laid/layed?


--For many people (including me), "lie" and "lay" may be used somewhat interchangeably for definition number 2 on your list. My usage allows for both of the following:

"He was/is lying on the bed"
"He was/is laying on the bed"

My past tense for both of those is:

"He laid (down)"

--I don't use "lain" in normal speech. However, I'll use "lain" in formal writing if it comes up. This is my usage in normal speech:

"He hasn't laid down yet"

--For number 3, I invariably use "lay/laid."

"He laid the backpack down on the table"
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Postby MikeL » 2005-09-05, 2:30

Thanks, svenska. What you say tends to confirm my suspicions: that at least in AE, "lie" and "lay" are converging, or more accurately, that "lay" is becoming generalized for both. I think you are in a transition phase, with "lain" already obsolete, "lay" as the past tense of "lie" replaced by "laid", and hesitation between "lie" and "lay" for present tense. I confidently predict the disappearance of "lie" within another 2 generations!
It will be interesting to see how long the distinction survives in non-American dialects...

I wonder whether the same is happening in German, where I suspect the distinction between "liegen" and "(sich) legen" may cause similar confusion.

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''lay'' vs. ''lie''

Postby SpaceFlight » 2005-09-05, 2:57

,,--For many people (including me), "lie" and "lay" may be used somewhat interchangeably for definition number 2 on your list. My usage allows for both of the following:>>

Kirk,

I had read somewhere that the past tense of ''lie'' as ''lay'', was how the present tense words ''lay'' and ''lie'' (definition 2) started getting confused.

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lay vs. lie

Postby SpaceFlight » 2005-09-05, 2:58

Was what I read true?

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-05, 6:24

MikeL wrote:Thanks, svenska. What you say tends to confirm my suspicions: that at least in AE, "lie" and "lay" are converging, or more accurately, that "lay" is becoming generalized for both. I think you are in a transition phase, with "lain" already obsolete, "lay" as the past tense of "lie" replaced by "laid", and hesitation between "lie" and "lay" for present tense. I confidently predict the disappearance of "lie" within another 2 generations!
It will be interesting to see how long the distinction survives in non-American dialects...


Haha. Well, at least here, both lie (down) and lay (down) seem to be equally common and interchangeable for definition 2. As I see it, it's not that lay is replacing lie, it's just that the two have become equally used forms for definition 2, while sharing the same past tense and past participle (laid/laid). I remember having to learn the official formal written forms in high school and I still can't get them straight, which shows how unnatural they really are.

SpaceFlight wrote:I had read somewhere that the past tense of ''lie'' as ''lay'', was how the present tense words ''lay'' and ''lie'' (definition 2) started getting confused.


That could be it. The fact that the past tense of "lie" is the same as the present tense of "lay" probably had something to do with it. Also, the fact that "lie" is very often used in conjunction with "down" means that even saying "lay down" (as the traditional past tense of "lie down") sounds very similar to saying "laid down" and then the "laid" probably got applied in other cases even when not followed by a /d/. So I think the word "down" also played a part in this.

This is similar to something that happened in Spanish. In Spanish the words "estoy" "soy" and "doy" (1st person singular indicative of 'to be' 'to be [permanent]' and 'give') were once "estó" "so" and "do" but since the words were often followed by "yo" (1st person singular pronoun) and the [o] was stressed, the [o] acquired an assimilatory [j] accommodating the following [j] of [jo] which then became reanalyzed as essential to the words even in the absence of "yo." So what was once:

"estó (yo)" [esˈto] [jo]
"so (yo)" [so] [jo]
"do (yo)" [do] [jo]

"so un hombre alto"
"te do este regalo"

--became

"estoy (yo)" [esˈtoj] [jo]
"soy (yo)" [soj] [jo]
"doy (yo)" [doj] [jo]

"soy un hombre alto"
"te doy este regalo"
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I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby ZombiekE » 2005-09-05, 14:46

I knew about esto, so and do, but I hadn't been told about that assimilation because of having "yo" next to it.

In fact, "yo soy un hombre alto" is the most natual version ("soy yo un hombre alto"). I don't know if adding "y" happened because people centuries ago spoke like "soy yo un hombre alto".

My teacher of Spanish Language from school told us something that had to be with the shortness of the word. Adding "y" makes the word more intelligible.

May there be several theories about this? I'm not completely sure of the one I've just told you but that's the most I've been able to recall (it's been years since she told us that as an interesting detail), but I know for sure she didn't tell anything about "esto yo", "so yo" or "do yo".
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Postby kibo » 2005-09-05, 16:01

svenska84 wrote:This is similar to something that happened in Spanish. In Spanish the words "estoy" "soy" and "doy" (1st person singular indicative of 'to be' 'to be [permanent]' and 'give') were once "estó" "so" and "do" but since the words were often followed by "yo" (1st person singular pronoun) and the [o] was stressed, the [o] acquired an assimilatory [j] accommodating the following [j] of [jo] which then became reanalyzed as essential to the words even in the absence of "yo." So what was once:


My sources might be a bit outdated (I have to get a Spanish historical grammar book that isn't 20 years old :oops:), but they say that it is not clear where the -y came from. However it offers the possibility that the y is actually the apocopated latin adverb of place IBI (there) which gave (h)y. That is how we actually got 'hay' (ha + y). But whether this also happened to soy, doy, voy and estoy is not known for sure.
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Postby kibo » 2005-09-05, 16:19

Maybe our Portuguese speaking friends can enlighten us how they came up with sou, vou, dou and estou. It doesn't seem that it's for the same reason, but it's suspicious how exactly and only those words have an -u there.
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Re: lie/lay

Postby Gormur » 2005-09-26, 0:56

MikeL wrote:What is your usage with these two verbs?

In UK, Aust, NZ (at least in theory!) we have 3 distinct verbs:

(1) to lie (tell a falsehood); past tense and past participle: lied
(2) to lie (recline), intransitive; past tense lay, past participle lain
(3) to lay (set, put down), transitive, occasionally intransitive, e.g. of birds; past tense and past participle laid


1. I lied to my professor.
2. I lay down before the game had begun.
3. I laid the pen down.

Not sure which or whether or not any of these forms are "correct". These are the usual ones I hear and use.

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Postby Alcadras » 2005-09-26, 13:26

i sometimes lie
i lay down my bed.
i laid my book

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-26, 22:19

Alcadras wrote:i sometimes lie
i lay down on my bed.


Just a little correction above :) "Lay down my bed" implies you picked it up and are now putting it back on the floor.

Alcadras wrote:i laid my book


:shock: That means you had sex with it ;) Better say something like "I laid my book down" or "I laid down my book" unless you're really referring to having extracurricular fun with your book ;)
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Re: lie/lay

Postby allemaalmeezinge » 2005-09-27, 3:02

MikeL wrote:(1) to lie (tell a falsehood); past tense and past participle: lied
(2) to lie (recline), intransitive; past tense lay, past participle lain
(3) to lay (set, put down), transitive, occasionally intransitive, e.g. of birds; past tense and past participle laid


I have to admit that (without context) I would always identify the simple past of the second form as the present tense form of the 3rd one.

German does distinguish between those verbs like the following show:
It'd be:

1) to lie (tell a falsehood): lügen(1st person sgl. past: log; pp:gelogen)
2) to lie (recline): liegen ['liːɡən] (1st person sgl. past: lag; past participle: gelegen)
3) to lay (set, put down): legen (1st person sgl. past: legte; past participle: gelegt)


This is due to the fact that the first two are so called "strong verbs" in German. Means they have remained the old way of forming the past tense (vowel shift). Just as the to lie (recline) in English seems to be :) It seems the other verbs (1st & 2nd one) have switched to be regular verbs (weak verbs). So they form the past the way every regular verb does, just by adding an -ed. There are some strong verbs in German that are right now becoming weak verbs, too. I think in English the process was faster.

Watch the vowel of the second verb in English. Shifting from [i] to [a]; that's the Proto Indo European way of forming it. I think Sansktit does it, too :)

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Postby Alcadras » 2005-09-27, 13:35

svenska84 wrote:
Alcadras wrote:i sometimes lie
i lay down on my bed.


Just a little correction above :) "Lay down my bed" implies you picked it up and are now putting it back on the floor.

Alcadras wrote:i laid my book


:shock: That means you had sex with it ;) Better say something like "I laid my book down" or "I laid down my book" unless you're really referring to having extracurricular fun with your book ;)

maybe i meant your meanings :D

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Postby jonathan » 2005-09-27, 16:06

Yeah, I would have to agree that in AE, lie/lay seem to be used interchangably by many people. It has always confused me... so I try to stick to 'lay' for past tense.

But there does seem to be a difference in tone when one says "lay down" vs. "lie down." For some reason, and perhaps it is just the sound of the vowels, but lay down sounds more calm and soft in tone, whereas lie down sounds more direct and forceful. In other words, "lay down" sounds like something you might say to your spouse to coax them to bed, and "lie down" sounds like something you might say to force your hyperactive 9 year-old to SETTLE DOWN AND SHUT UP BECAUSE IT'S PAST YOUR BEDTIME AND YOU HAVE SCHOOL TOMORROW.

If you know what I mean. ;)
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Postby allemaalmeezinge » 2005-09-28, 1:20

:D :D :D :mrgreen:

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Postby ZombiekE » 2005-09-28, 2:47

jonathan wrote:In other words, "lay down" sounds like something you might say to your spouse to coax them to bed, and "lie down" sounds like something you might say to force your hyperactive 9 year-old to SETTLE DOWN AND SHUT UP BECAUSE IT'S PAST YOUR BEDTIME AND YOU HAVE SCHOOL TOMORROW.

If you know what I mean. ;)


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Postby jonathan » 2005-09-28, 3:45

ZombiekE wrote:
jonathan wrote:In other words, "lay down" sounds like something you might say to your spouse to coax them to bed, and "lie down" sounds like something you might say to force your hyperactive 9 year-old to SETTLE DOWN AND SHUT UP BECAUSE IT'S PAST YOUR BEDTIME AND YOU HAVE SCHOOL TOMORROW.

If you know what I mean. ;)


Do you have several wives? xD


I think that's an American usage; it's really quite common for plural pronouns such as "they" and "them" to be used in a singular tense (here in the States, at least). :P
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