lie/lay alternation - not US

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Oct 5 04:51:57 UTC 2011

Excellent! I love the second explanation. It works in parallel both for irrealis and rhyming.


On Oct 4, 2011, at 9:09 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> Sheer speculation:  Maybe "lay with", with human object, is too close to "lay" (tr.), so "lie" in line 3 is a quasi-euphemism.  I know, doesn't explain why "lie" isn't used throughout.  Another perhaps more likely possibility:  The "if" in lines 1,2 induces an irrealis tense shift, where "lay" is past of "lie" (cf. "If I were to lie with you").  In this case, there'd be no appreciable difference between the below quatrain and e.g.
> If I sat here
> If I just sat here
> Would you sit with me
> And just forget the world?
> LH
> On Oct 4, 2011, at 11:09 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> In the song "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, the words lay and lie appear as intransitive verbs.
>> One stanza has both and is repeated four times (
>> If I lay here
>> If I just lay here
>> Would you lie with me
>> And just forget the world?
>> The enunciation is clear in each instance. Although it's possible that "lie" means "tell a lie," it looks like euphonic alternation to me.
>> The song was written by Gary Lightbody (, who was born in Northern Ireland and went to university in Scotland.
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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