Jump to content

What's with the ads?


Photo

Grammar ?: lay ahead or lie ahead


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
21 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#1 Kathleen in VA

Kathleen in VA

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6277 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:36 AM

I listened to a video of Pres. Obama's remarks just after the Ft. Hood tragedy and he said,

I plan to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead.

Later, I listened to a video about two men struggling to make ends meet during this economic crisis. The reporter ended his segment with these words:

...not giving up hope that better times lie ahead.

So which is it, lie or lay? This is the kind of thing that will needle me until I find out.

#2 LauraGB

LauraGB

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5675 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:41 AM

I understand that chickens lay and people lie.

So, I believe it would be lie ahead.

:D

ETA I understand this is a cheat rather than a hard and fast grammar rule, but it is helpful 95% of the time when we are not referring to lay/lie used as regular old verbs/predicates. I can't even try to tell you where I heard that, though.

Edited by LauraGB, 10 November 2009 - 09:06 AM.


#3 Blessedfamily

Blessedfamily

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2792 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:43 AM

Isn't lay what you do to someone or something, and lie what you do with your own body?

If I'm acting upon something/someone else I lay it, or place it down. Bringing my own person down onto another surface (such as a bed) is lying?


I'm not fully awake today, so I could be way off.


It seems whatever situation is ahead would be lying itself before me. I think???

Edited by Blessedfamily, 10 November 2009 - 08:48 AM.


#4 vkay

vkay

    Hive Mind Level 3 Worker: Honeymaking Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 185 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:50 AM

I think that because it's "chickens lay" and "people lie": they're not talking about people physically lying down in the future, they are talking about "situations" - therefore I would think it's lay.

#5 Blessedfamily

Blessedfamily

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2792 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:54 AM

Here's an answer from WIKI, not that it's the final grammar authority.

"It depends. In the present tense it is lie ahead. In the past tense it is lay ahead. Because lay is the past tense of lie. Do not confuse this with the verb lay, which means to put something down. I may lay an ambush. But the ambush lies ahead. Now that I am past the ambush it does not bother me that it lay ahead."

#6 Scarlett

Scarlett

    I'll think about that tomorrow

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11565 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:54 AM

I listened to a video of Pres. Obama's remarks just after the Ft. Hood tragedy and he said,

I plan to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead.

Later, I listened to a video about two men struggling to make ends meet during this economic crisis. The reporter ended his segment with these words:

...not giving up hope that better times lie ahead.

So which is it, lie or lay? This is the kind of thing that will needle me until I find out.


Kathleen I depend on you to know these things.....:tongue_smilie:

My first thought is it should be lay since it is 'times' that is referred to.

Then, as always, my second thought is but what do I know.

#7 plimsoll

plimsoll

    Hive Mind Level 6 Worker: Scout Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 420 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 08:59 AM

To lie is to assume a horizontal or resting position; to lay is to put something down.

Some confusion arises because "lay" is the past tense of lie.

Here are some sample conjugations/usages:

I lie on the bed; I am lying on the bed; yesterday I lay on the bed; in the past I have lain on the bed.

I lay the books on the table; I am laying the books on the table; yesterday I laid the books on the table; in the past I have laid the books on the table.

The verb phrase is "lie ahead". It should conjugate as does "lie". So "challenges that lay ahead" means the challenges were there in the past but are no longer there now.

Edited by plimsoll, 10 November 2009 - 09:04 AM.


#8 Melinda in VT

Melinda in VT

    Amateur Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3982 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:02 AM

Obama made a grammatical error here, although according to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage many grammarians feel the distinction is fading and the words can be used interchangeably.

#9 Scarlett

Scarlett

    I'll think about that tomorrow

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11565 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:06 AM

To lie is to assume a horizontal or resting position; to lay is to put something down.

Some confusion arises because "lay" is the past tense of lie.

Here are some sample conjugations/usages:

I lie on the bed; I am lying on the bed; yesterday I lay on the bed; in the past I have lain on the bed.

I lay the books on the table; I am laying the books on the table; yesterday I laid the books on the table; in the past I have laid the books on the table.

The verb phrase is "lie ahead". It should conjugate as does "lie". So "challenges that lay ahead" means the challenges were there in the past but are no longer there now.


Nice explanation. I am printing it out for reference. Thanks!

#10 Classical Country Mama

Classical Country Mama

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 800 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:07 AM

Yes, I second that. With "to lay" it can help to add the word "down" in your head to distinguish it from "to lie."

* Tomorrow I will lie in my bed all day while my daughter brings me bonbons.

* Tomorrow I will lay down all my responsibilities and hop a plane to Paris.

* Tomorrow I am hoping my chickens will lay, so I can go to market.

--So in the example you cited, the use of "lay" in the future tense was a grammatical error, unless the situations were planning to lay down a particular thing or they were planning to lay eggs, of course. These are extraordinary days, so I wouldn't want to presume what the situations may or may not have been intending to do, of course!

(speaking as an English teacher, who has spent many years correcting students on this error....!)

#11 Blessedfamily

Blessedfamily

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2792 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:08 AM

To lie is to assume a horizontal or resting position; to lay is to put something down.

Some confusion arises because "lay" is the past tense of lie.

Here are some sample conjugations/usages:

I lie on the bed; I am lying on the bed; yesterday I lay on the bed; in the past I have lain on the bed.

I lay the books on the table; I am laying the books on the table; yesterday I laid the books on the table; in the past I have laid the books on the table.

The verb phrase is "lie ahead". It should conjugate as does "lie". So "challenges that lay ahead" means the challenges were there in the past but are no longer there now.


You explained it more clearly than the WIKI article.

#12 nestof3

nestof3

    Beekeeping Professor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11340 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:13 AM

I think to lay needs a direct object. To lie does not (so it's intransitive, I guess).

Edited by nestof3, 10 November 2009 - 09:59 AM.


#13 angela in ohio

angela in ohio

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10220 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:14 AM

lie :001_smile: It describes what the times are doing, and they are not laying anything down.

#14 Blessedfamily

Blessedfamily

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2792 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:18 AM

I think to lay needs a direct onject. To lie does not (so it's intransitive, I guess).


Another good point. :001_smile:

#15 LauraGB

LauraGB

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5675 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:22 AM

I understand that chickens lay and people lie.

So, I believe it would be lie ahead.

:D

ETA I understand this is a cheat rather than a hard and fast grammar rule, but it is helpful 95% of the time when we are not referring to lay/lie used as regular old verbs/predicates. I can't even try to tell you where I heard that, though.


Okay, now that I'm on my second cup of coffee, I think the cheat is all my own. "Lay behind" is past tense because the eggs are already in my fridge (meaning they have already been laid). The op's example is clearly future tense "lie ahead".

*Note to self: don't wake up and start answering grammar questions before cup of coffee has started to work.:leaving:

Edited by LauraGB, 10 November 2009 - 09:24 AM.


#16 Kathleen in VA

Kathleen in VA

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6277 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:24 AM

Well, I knew it was a transitive/non-transitive thing, but it was too early in the morning for me to think (or, more likely, I was just too lazy:D). Anyway, now that I've had my shower and dressed and thanks to all you clever ladies, I can see that it should be lie. As I was shampooing my hair, I thought the president must be right because speaking is his gift. He's very good at at and it just seemed highly unlikely that he would make that kind of error. But, in his defense, he was at a conference that got interrupted by the shooting and this particular sentence was a switch in his prepared speech. Also, I do think the distinction is fading somewhat. I wonder if he thought about it later and cringed.:)

Oh, and sorry, Scarlett.:) I'm not sure why, but the structure of the sentences threw me off.

#17 Kathleen in VA

Kathleen in VA

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 6277 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:25 AM

Okay, now that I'm on my second cup of coffee, I think the cheat is all my own. "Lay behind" is past tense because the eggs are already in my fridge (meaning they have already been laid).

*Note to self: don't wake up and start answering grammar questions before cup of coffee has started to work.:leaving:


I'm thinking lack of coffee was my problem, too. No worries. It happens to the best of us.:D

#18 Laura Corin

Laura Corin

    She who plants flowers for bees

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 17221 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:25 AM

I plan to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead.


The fields lie fallow. (intransitive, present tense, plural)

The guests lay their coats on the bed. (transitive, present tense, plural)

So I think that the president made a slip of the tongue. I'm happy to be corrected - I only just made up the transitive/intransitive rule. I've always done this one by instinct before.

ETA: didn't read the other comments - others got there before me.

Laura

#19 Blessedfamily

Blessedfamily

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2792 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:32 AM

I can do some subjects while my brain naps, but not grammar and math. :001_smile:

#20 Laurie4b

Laurie4b

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 8645 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:39 AM

That's my understanding of the distinction as well. The verb "to lay" takes a direct object. What is most confusing is that lay is the past tense of lie. argh.

#21 Laurie4b

Laurie4b

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 8645 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:42 AM

Isn't lay what you do to someone or something, and lie what you do with your own body?

If I'm acting upon something/someone else I lay it, or place it down. Bringing my own person down onto another surface (such as a bed) is lying?


I'm not fully awake today, so I could be way off.


It seems whatever situation is ahead would be lying itself before me. I think???


That's correct. Chickens lay eggs (direct object). Let sleeping dogs lie. (no direct object.) You tell a dog to "Go lie down." You lay an object on the table. Good times lie ahead. (no direct object.)

#22 Scarlett

Scarlett

    I'll think about that tomorrow

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11565 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 09:45 AM

I thought the president must be right because speaking is his gift. He's very good at at and it just seemed highly unlikely that he would make that kind of error.



This is what I thought too....

But, in his defense, he was at a conference that got interrupted by the shooting and this particular sentence was a switch in his prepared speech. Also, I do think the distinction is fading somewhat. I wonder if he thought about it later and cringed.:)



I'm betting he did cringe. :D


Oh, and sorry, Scarlett.:) I'm not sure why, but the structure of the sentences threw me off.


Is ok Kathleen. :lol: Everyone gets an off day.


What's with the ads?