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Re: [BKARTS] lie/lay(was "paper")

Animate or not is not the point. "lie" as in to be flat, is
intransitive, which means it cannot ever take a direct object. "lay,"
as in to cause to be flat, is transitive, which means it MUST ALWAYS
take a direct object. So paper can lie on the desk but you lay paper
there. You cannot lie a brick just as you cannot lay down (unless you
proceed to lay someTHING down).

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that that past tense of LIE is
LAY and the past tense of LAY is LAID. So yesterday you LAY on the
bed to rest but you LAID your paper on the desk first.

Grammatically yours,
Meg Miller
HS Latin grammar teacher

To confuse things further:

I once told a paint and body shop manager, "I left the bumper lying on the
ground in front of the car." He said, "You mean 'laying on the ground' don't
you? Inanimate objects can't lie!"
It's true that inanimate objects can't "lie," but they "can" lie! He had the
rule backward. It should be: "Inanimate objects can't lay." Even some
animate objects can't lay. Dogs can't lay. Cows and pigs can't lay. But hens
and bricklayers can.

From: http://uwf.edu/writelab/writeadvice/wa-goodgram7.htm Another especially troublesome form of lie is lying, the present participle of lie. Lying may be used with both animate and inanimate objects.

     The scissors are lying on the desk.
     Tourists are lying on the beach getting sunburned.

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