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I am happy to report that I have had a grammatical epiphany: there is a reason why I have been so inept at using the words lie and lay correctly..

In editing the final draft of my story, I  found that I explore the idea of lying around… a lot. This makes sense as lying down in bed chilling is most definitely a primary theme in my life. So, on account of  having been publicly humiliated in class on multiple occasions for my inability to recognize the difference between these two terms, and considering I often wish to use these concepts in my writing, I decided to dedicate some time to teaching myself the difference.

I was particularly upset about my having been so confused about something so easy and ridiculous that should have probably been taught to me in the third grade, or at the very least, the constant grammatical corrections from my mother. I always thought I had a pretty solid grasp on grammar. I consulted google of course and was sent to grammar girl, who has helped me on many other occasions. I am happy to report that I am not a fool for having misremembered the correct way to use these words, as I have been educated by Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan to do the exact opposite of what is correct.

Eric Clapton ponders the implications of his shameless misuse of the word "lay". There's no taking it back now, sir.

Eric Clapton ponders the implications of his shameless misuse of the word “lay”. There’s no taking it back now, sir!

Grammar Girl enlists many different solutions to remembering the difference between lie and lay. One of which is to remember these artists are wrong. What is a girl to do when she has been listening to “Lay Down Sally” for as long as she remembers! Grammar girl explains:

To say “lay down Sally” would imply that someone should grab Sally and lay her down. If he wanted Sally to rest in his arms on her own, the correct line would be “lie down Sally.”

Oh, how glad I was to hear that I have not simply been imagining the term “lay” being used incorrectly under the pretense that it was correct! In fact, whenever I hear the word ‘lay’ I automatically begin singing this song, which is absolutely the reason I struggled with the concept so much. “Lay Lady Lay” even sounds more beautiful, and I don’t blame Bob one bit for having forgone any grammatical conventions. What a terrible example Clapton is setting as he has influenced my schoolwork to make me look foolish and sent me into a fury of confusion on multiple occasions! I am glad to have done this research and now I am better able to understand that people lie down, and objects lay down.

But, how disappointed I was to learn that it simply gets more complicated, and less culturally cool, as you move into the present tense of lie and lay. The past tense of lie is lay, and the past tense of lay is laid. Who decided this ridiculously confusing conjugation?! The past participle of lie is lain; Sally has lain across my big brass bed for days, and the past participle of lay is no different from that simple past; Sally has laid the guitar on the big brass bed.

If you want to be able to sing Eric Clapton in order to remember that you’re using the incorrect words in your story, listen here.

But if you’d rather listen to Bob Dylan, click here.  

Now may we all have happy vacations full of lying in bed watching the ‘flix!


2 Responses to “Dylan and Clapton lie about their lays!”

  1. Thank you very much, Wendy. I will no doubt share this post with many years’ worth of lie/lay-confused students.

  2. Jenny Mix says:

    This was great. You made me laugh. yay.