Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You Just Going to Lie There?

When someone says that he or she wants to get laid, do you know what it means? Yes, it means that, but do you know what it says about that person? It says that the person is lazy- that he or she is just going to lie there and not do any of the work.

To understand why it means that, we must first understand the difference between lay and lie.

The difference between lay and lie is like the difference between sadism and masochism: one means doing something to someone (or something) else while the other means doing it to oneself.

So, if we think of it that way, then lay is the sadist-because we use it when we are putting or placing someone or something else down.

For example,

Please just lay the leather whip down by the handcuffs.

See? The leather whip is being placed down.

Lie, on the other hand, is when one places oneself down.

For example,

She told him to lie down on the floor and bark like a dog.

In this case, he reclined himself.

So, the reason that people who want to “get laid” are lazy is because laid is the past tense of lay. Therefore, it means they want someone else to do it to them.

Here's an example of when to use laid:

Yesterday, Carl laid Susan on the bed.

(Get your mind out of the gutter; she fell asleep watching Letterman, and Carl picked her up off the couch and laid her on the bed.)

Now, the thing that makes this all very complicated is this: guess what the past tense of lie is?

It’s lay.

I know- it’s totally screwed up right? It's like some weird, messed up relationship, like when your nemesis turns out to be your father:

Or the woman you are in love with turns out to be your sister:

Or your daughter is also your sister:

Anyhow, it's weird and complicated, and whoever was behind that decision was definitely a sadist.

So, we would write

Yesterday, Fluffy lay around all day, so he better not lie around today too.


William said...

This is the best blog ever. I've never read a blog before, but I did see Julie and Julia. It had a blog in it, so I feel like I have some experience. More than that experience, I made my proclamation based on MY understanding of the world. Stay with me here. The world to me is of my own creation and very immediate. Why, just the other day I was thinking about taking a stab at writing something and realized I know nothing about grammar (not even how to spell it). My first impulse was to go to the library and get a moth holed, dog eared, and dusty book on the subject. That didn't inspire me at all. What was I to do? Then along came the best blog ever. I've already learned about acronyms, commas, coordinating conjunctions, and a little bit more about my friend Jenny. You've made a dusty, old and boring subject very funny and quite sexy at times. So, you see how my assertion that this is the best blog ever is not hyperbole but the truth. I don't know if you take requests, but I had always wondered about the gerund. I'd never been able to understand how an English verbal noun in -ing could have the the function of a substantive and at the same time show the verbal features of tense, voice, and the capacity to take the adverbial qualifier AND to govern objects. Can you help?



jbaranick said...

I totally take requests. I'm on it.