Past participle of 'lie'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by davidl243, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. davidl243

    davidl243 Senior Member

    London, England
    English, Scotland
    As a native English speaker it causes me a great deal of embarrassment to have to ask this, but what is the past participle of 'lie', as in 'lie down'? He has lain down? That just doesn't look right...Help!
  2. This one always worries me too, David. You are not alone!

    I think 'he has lain down (to sleep)' is OK. Then on the other hand 'He has laid down his life for me' comes to mind.

    Forward the grammarians please!

  3. yes , i looked it up
    it's "lain"

    to lie(tell a lie)=lie, lied, lied.
    to lie(down)=lie, lay, laid
    to lay=lay, laid, laid
  4. Sabelotodo Senior Member

    Great Lakes Region, USA
    English, United States
    Sounds awkward, doesn't it, but "lain" is the past particple of "to lie."

    Try using a different verb, if you don't like the sound of that one. How about, "he has reclined," "he has gone to bed," or "he has taken a nap."
  5. davidl243

    davidl243 Senior Member

    London, England
    English, Scotland
    Thanks a lot guys, it gives me heart to know that someone has dedicated a whole webpage to the issue, i mustn't be alone! Cheers very much :), David
  6. DaleC Senior Member

    Historically, it's LAIN. But somehow, this word form has been gradually going out of fashion, apparently starting before my time.

    Here's the big picture. Germanic languages each have a handful of verb pairs (lie, lay; fall, fell) consisting of matched intransitive and transitive counterparts sharing a common concept. The intransitives are irregular and the transitives are regular. Transitive means having an noun object without need of a preposition, as in "fell a tree".English seems to have only four pairs left, and the pair shine/shine is iffy.

    In the Germanic languages, most irregular verbs can be thoroughly specified by citing three forms: present in English (infinitive in German), past, and participle. (Just one form suffices for regular verbs, of course, because they're regular.)

    So let's compare.

    fall, fell, fallen (irregular and intransitive);
    fell, felled, felled (regular and transitive)

    lie, lay, lain (irregular and intransitive);
    lay, laid, laid (regular and transitive)

    Notice the source of confusion in the last pair: the identical form is the past tense for one word and the present tense for the other word.

    (By some stupidity of history, we use the spelling "laid" instead of "layed".)

    The final two pairs are:

    fit, fit, fit;
    fit, fitted, fitted

    shine, shone, shone;
    shine, shined, shined (can also be used intransitively)
  7. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Nothing to add to DaleC's excellent coverage of the topic, except to agree with the one subjective part of it-- his statement that "lain" is going out of use. You might still be faulted for using "laid" in formal writing or teaching this usage to students-- but why not acknowledge the situation as it has evolved? It's not like "lain" is going to make a comeback.
  8. A very concise and helpful explanation Dale. Thanks.

    But here is more dictionary support for 'lain'.

    I shall continue to use it.

    I'm sure David must be biting his nails now! :>) :>)

  9. SpiceMan Senior Member

    Osaka 大阪
    Castellano, Argentina
    So english did have some kind of distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs !!! (besides the grammar perspective).
    Moreover, still has some stints of it!

    /me is amused
  10. DaleC Senior Member

    I agree that "lain" is just about dead for most people. But the past tense form "lay" is still used a lot, and the present tense form "lie" is still vigorous. I'd like to see a sociolinguistic survey done to determine the demographics of the current prevalence of the present tense form, "lie". In particular, has "I'm laying down" become the majority version among the young? Maybe the research has already been done.

    Whenever I have thought about the colloquial confusion between "lie" and lay", it has always seemed to me that people don't have occasion to say the perfect tenses of "lie". I have wondered why. I have a hard time imagining that I myself would have occasion to say it.

    I use the normative forms exclusively, but that's partly because I'm an amateur grammarian. (On the other hand, if my childhood dialect had diverged from the standard, I would choose to persist now with the divergence.) The nonstandard usages I observe all seem to involve the transitive verb intruding on the intransitive: "lay down!", "I laid down", "I'm laying down".
  11. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    I believe there are more than four pairs involved. Here are two more:

    sit, sat, sat (intransitive and irregular)
    set, set, set (transitive and ?)

    rise, rose, risen (intransitive and irregular)
    raise, raised, raised (transitive and regular)
  12. DaleC Senior Member

    Right you are! I scanned the whole list of irregular verbs and failed to picked on these pairs. I need to get some brain pills. And not even close to old age. :(

    "set, set, set" is irregular, of course. But it probably was originally regular, in Anglo-Saxon: settan, sette, setted. (This was at least partly regular.)
    sit < Anglo-Saxon sittan, sæt.

    English has 160 or so irregular verbs. German has 190 or so. But only about 80 verbs are common to both inventories. This shows that membership in the irregular classes has been rather unstable over the millenia.
  13. Eugens

    Eugens Senior Member

    Argentina Spanish
    Dale, thank you so much for sharing that information. It is very interesting to know that there is a link between transitivity and verbal regularity.

    I happen to have a list of pairs. Besides the ones already mentioned, there are:

    cost, cost, cost
    cost, costed, costed

    bind, bound, bound
    bound, bounded, bounded

    find, found, found
    found, founded, founded

    hang, hung, hung
    hang, hanged, hanged

    grind, ground, ground
    ground, grounded, grounded

    see, saw, seen
    saw, sawed, sawed/sawn

    wind, wound, wound
    wound, wounded, wounded

    bear, bore, born/borne

    strike, struck, struck/stricken
  14. DaleC Senior Member

    The two 'hang's and the two 'cost's are good catches. The transitive 'cost' is a modern verb, that's of extra interest.

    But we're not looking for words that just sound alike. You paired 'ver' with 'aserrar' and 'enrollar' with 'herir' ('see' with 'saw' and 'wind' with 'wound')! :eek:

  15. Eugens

    Eugens Senior Member

    Argentina Spanish
    Yes, I knew that some didn't comply with the rules. But all the same, I copied the whole list because I wanted to know your comments on it (and hopefully learn something more!:) ) and I thought that if two verbs were written alike today, that could mean that their meanings could have been related in the past, as sometimes the meanings of some words change with time. (Sometimes, they change so much, for example: I've found out that the verb "saw" comes from the same Old English word, "sagu" (speech), as the noun "saw"=a familiar saying) Certainly, that's not always the case: I checked and "find" and "found" aren't related at all (one comes from Old English "findan" and the other from Latin "fundare" in one meaning, and Latin "fundere" in another)

    "Bind" has some intransitive meanings:
    intransitive senses
    1 a : to form a cohesive mass b : to combine or be taken up especially by chemical action <antibody binds to a specific antigen>
    2 : to hamper free movement or natural action
    3 : to become hindered from free operation
    4 : to exert a restraining or compelling effect <a promise that binds>

    ...which perhaps (?) could be related (#2 and 3) to the transitive meaning of "bound" (To set a limit to; confine)

    My reasonings could be wrong, but at least, this has made me research and learn a couple of things.:p
  16. Greek2me New Member

    I dread these two choices myself. I'm a native English speaker, if one grants that my muddled Southern Virginia accent qualifies as English!

    My choice now is "His genius lay in recognizing that..." but I'm still not sure it is correct. But "His genius lied in..." just sounds wrong! Any Comments?
  17. Popeye123 New Member

    UK English
    Going back to the original question a better solution might be to say "He is lying down". Lain is the correct participle. laid is the passive participle as in "I laid the table"
  18. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    Well "to lie" meaning to rest has 'lay' as its simple past.

    "to lie" meaning to speak untruthfully has 'lied' as its simple past. I don't think there's any more to it than that.
  19. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    There is potential confusion, particularly to our ears, because "lay" is the present tense of one verb ("to lay") and "lay" is the past tense of another verb ("to lie").

    His genius lies in... (present)
    His genius lay in... (simple past)

    I lay the book down. (present)
    I laid the book down. (simple past)
  20. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I don't agree with this, for BE, particularly when the past participle is used in expressions like lain dormant.

    The COCA (AE Corpus) has plenty of examples too. Here's one from the New Yorker in 2005, from an article called THE ALBANIAN WRITERS' UNION AS MIRRORED BY A WOMAN:

    Still, as if rising through a crack in the ice, a truth surfaced in my mind, one that had long lain dormant there: the girls I knew-the ones with perfect stomachs toned by long hours of sports, manual labor, and swimming-suddenly seemed sterile and lacking in mystery in comparison with Marguerite's body, as I imagined it.

    The ngrams support the view that the word is still alive and well in AE.

    ps. further ngrams added by request.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2014

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