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lie (on) your back

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Phi, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Phi Senior Member

    USA
    Arabic
    What is the correct form?

    a) Please lie on your back.

    b) Please lie back.

    Or both?

    Thanks
     
  2. bella* Senior Member

    English
    I would say please lie on your back but you can use either although please LAY back I think sounds more natural.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    They mean slightly different things.

    To lie on your back is to lie down for the full length of your body, on your back.

    To lie back is to recline backward ("back" is a direction, here); you could do so while sitting in a large, soft chair, for example, as well as on a bed or a couch.

    Another respondent has suggested that you could substitute "lay" for "lie." No, you can't. "Lay" is a transitive verb (that is, it takes a object), while "lie" (which you have used correctly) is intransitive. If you go to the beach, you might lay a large towel on the sand and then lie on it.
     
  4. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    USA English
    It seems like I have heard instructions like this in my doctor's examining office. When the doctor wants me to lay completely down it is, "lay on your back." If she wants me to move from a sitting position to a position a few inches backwards the instruction is lie back. In that case the next instruction is, "Cough!"
     
  5. bella* Senior Member

    English
    I was thinking about when I go to the docotors and they say l'ay on your back' maybe it's because it is a demand?? Although this may just be bad english, thank you for correcting me parla!
     
  6. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
  7. bella* Senior Member

    English
    Another respondent has suggested that you could substitute "lay" for "lie." No, you can't. "Lay" is a transitive verb (that is, it takes an object), while "lie" (which you have used correctly) is intransitive. If you go to the beach, you might lay a large towel on the sand and then lie on it.

    Going back to this can 'please lay back' be used if you are pointing at an object or saying please lay back onto the table. Would that be ok?
     
  8. Renaissance man Senior Member

    I'm always amazed to hear native speakers mix these words up.

    Bella, no, that's still not correct. You lay an object somewhere, but you lie down. It doesn't help that you add a prepositional phrase afterwards.
     
  9. bella* Senior Member

    English
    Oh haha! The reason native English speakers find it difficult is because unlike in your country we don’t have English grammar lessons at school, which is why we find it far more difficult to learn foreign languages because we are never taught the construction of our own language. I only heard of such a thing as an intransitive verb in my 2nd year at university when learning French and still don't really understand it as I’m sure you can see.
     
  10. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    No, not if you want to speak correct English. "Onto the table" is an adverbial phrase (saying how to lie back), not an object of the verb; the correct request would be please lie back onto the table.

    By "object of a verb" we mean that the verb is a word that indicates doing something to the object; lay a towel on the sand, as above, is an example. You could also lay a book on the table, and a bird can lay an egg. Towel, book, and egg are all objects of the verb. If there is no object of the action, the right word is lie.

    SDGraham has wondered why so many people, even native English speakers, are confused about this. I think it may be because the past tense of one verb is the same as the present tense of the other. (Don't ask why. English is often very illogical!) The past tense of lie is lay ("she lay on the bed"); the past tense of lay is laid ("he laid the paper on the desk").
     
  11. bella* Senior Member

    English
    Thank you, I understand now! My excuse is I'm trying to learn to many languages so I have now forgotten how to speak my own!
     
  12. Phi Senior Member

    USA
    Arabic
    Guys , then, I think you guys all mean that doctors say" Please lie on your back" when they want to examine your belly. Correct?
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Correct:).
     

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