1. struggler
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    struggler Member

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    Some questions about using the verbs lay and lie

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by struggler, Sep 16, 2015.

    I'm going through my story and trying to fix up the proper use of the verbs (to) lay and (to) lie. I was wondering if I could get some help on the proper use of these words. I understand their meanings (mostly) but I'm having trouble placing them in a few particular ways.


    Question 1: about describing an object that is on the ground or in a position in space. Is the use of the word 'lay' correct in each of these sentences?

    'The fabric was so thin that he could see vaguely what lay behind it.'

    'He walked towards the forest that lay behind the house.'

    'He awoke only to find the place next to him now lay empty.'


    Question 2: to lie down. Is the word 'lie' used correctly in the following sentences?

    '"Let's lie down."'

    'She followed his lead to lie down on their sides.'

    'He didn't want to lie down but knew his next chance for rest would not come again for some time.'


    Question 3: The correct word to use to describe the placement of an emotion. Are the words 'lie' and 'laid' used correct here?

    '"If the raiders come, our only hope lies in hiding in the mountains."'

    'He looked into her face and could see no sympathy laid behind her cold blue eyes.'


    Question 4. Is this correct?

    'He laid his eyes upon them.'


    Thanks for any help. I get when to use these verbs in like 9/10 cases but some of them are a bit more tricky than other.
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The only one I would change is in Question 3. I'd say 'He looked into her face and could see no sympathy lying behind her cold blue eyes.'
     
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  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    These are mostly uses of the verb "to lie"; the differences are due to tenses, where the past tense of "lie" becomes "lay"..."I lie down..." is something I do now. "I lay down..." is me lying down in the past.

    The distinction between "to lie" and "to lay" is that the one has no object being affected by it...

    1/ I lie down, and go to sleep. = no object.
    2/ I lay down my winning poker hand, and pick up the pot. = the "winning hand" is the object, which is affected by the verb.
    3/ And now I lay me down to sleep...="me" is the object that is affected by the verb.

    1a/ I lay down, and went to sleep. = past tense (both verbs)
    2a/ I laid down my winning poker hand, and picked up the pot. = past tense (both verbs)
    3a/ And then I laid me down to sleep...= past tense

     
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  4. Emberi Homa
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    Emberi Homa New Member

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    I've asked this question many a times. I found this article to be very helpful!


    Lay refers to when "lay" is being done to something. For example: I lay down the book.


    I remember this by thinking of the quote, "Now I lay me down to sleep." This quote helps me remember what "lay" means, primarily because you typically would say "I lie down," but the weird phrasing of "I lay me down" really stands out grammatically.


    Lie refers to when there is no help offered. For example: The book lies flat on the table. There, the book is not set down by anyone.


    "Lay" requires two subjects being involved, while "lie" only needs one subject.


    Tense change must also be addressed, to answer your question. Check out this chart!


    [​IMG]


    This article posits that "put" can replace "lay", while "rested" can replace "lie".


    I believe that your examples are correct, except for as follows:

    'He looked into her face and could see no sympathy resting/rested/lying/lay behind her cold blue eyes.'

    'He rested/lay his eyes upon them.' While "rested" may sound a bit awkward, he is not actually "putting" his eyes on anything.
     
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  5. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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    On some of those examples I actually would have left lay/lie out altogther. Such as the line 'He awoke only to find the place next to him now lay empty'. I would have writen as 'He awoke to find the the place next to him empty'.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2015
  6. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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