lying vs. laying problem

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Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
In a book, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, there's a sentence like below.
To me, LAYING sounds strange, and LYING seems better.

▪ I saw Jane laying on her stomach next to the swimming pool.
[The catcher in the rye - J. D. Salinger]

Of course, I don't think J.D. Salinger made a mistake in the sentence.

But when I googled about this, it seems that LYING is more popular than LAYING.

▪ I saw him lying on his stomach. [447,000 sentences]

▪ I saw him laying on his stomach. [79,700 sentences]

So I concluded that though LAYING is still possible, LYING is more often used in this sentence.

Are you agree with that?
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    1. There are many, many previous threads on lying and laying.
    2. Proper English is not a matter of Internet popularity. Google should never be consulted as an authority.
    3 "I saw Jane laying on her stomach next to the swimming pool." Totally incorrect but discouragingly common.


    Senior Member
    English - New York

    In this case, the more common use on Google does point to the "correct" usage of the verb.

    However, we're talking about the speech of a teenage character in a novel. I'm sure Salinger knew this wasn't the "proper" way to use the word, but who speaks "proper" English really?

    Although I don't share sdgraham's experience that "laying" in place of "lying" here really is that common, it sounds particularly odd to me, though maybe in Salinger's time it was more common.
    Interesting, I always thought 'laying' was standard AmE for 'lying'. :)
    Really? How very odd. No, in AE -- just as in BE -- "lay" and "lie" are not the same verb.

    In this case, the usage is ungramatical, and I fiind it likely that the ungrammatical usage was entirely intentional on the part of Salinger in order to represent the sort of mistake a schoolboy might make.


    Senior Member
    South Korea, Han-gul
    Thanks all of you.
    "Lying" is still correct since this sentence is not the mistake of the author but that of the schoolboy in the fiction.
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