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Grammatik auf Englisch - Sogar Bob Dylan lag falsch

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Unregelmäßige Verben Englisch, Verben Englisch, Englisch Verben

In 1969, Bob Dylan released his famous single \"Lay Lady Lay\", which quickly moved to top the charts in the US at #7 and in the UK at #5. Since then, cover versions of the song have been released by The Byrds, Duran Duran, Keith Jarrett, Neil Diamond and many other artists. And all of them -including Bob Dylan himself - had it wrong:

Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed/ ... /Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile

To lay
or to lie!

To lay is the infinitive of the transitive verb lay. It means to make something or someone take a flat or reclined resting position on a surface. Because it is transitive, the subject of the sentence takes action on someone or something else - the object, which is required.

You lay a book on the table. You lay a folder on your desk.

Lie, on the other hand, is the intransitive version of the action lay. Intransitive means the subject is taking the action itself. There is no action performed on another person or object, and an object is not allowed.

The book is lying on the table. The folder is lying on the desk.

Coming back to Bob Dylan, the lady is not laying herself across the bed. The lyrics should thus be:

Lie, lady, lie, lie across my big brass bed

Unfortunately, lie doesn\'t rhyme with stay which is used in subsequent lines, and lie can also mean to make a false statement. This may explain why Bob Dylan took a bit of artistic license with the lyrics. He either left out lay\'s required object [yourself], incorrectly used lay instead of lie or didn\'t give a flip about grammar.

Conjugating lay and lie


I lay my keys there every day when I get home.

Simple Past: I laid the folder on your desk yesterday.

Future: I will lay the pen on top of your computer while you\'re taking a break.

Present Continuous: I\'m laying a copy of this year\'s annual report on the coffee table as we speak.

Past Participle: I have laid a large pile of paperwork on your chair. Lie

Present: No thanks. I think I\'d rather lie here in the hammock where it\'s cool and continue reading.

Simple Past: I lay on the sofa all day yesterday with a stomach flu.

Future: The patients will lie in their beds for the duration of the treatment.

Present Perfect Continuous: The test patients have been lying in their beds for two weeks now.

Past Participle: I have lain here by the pool for two hours and haven\'t seen hide nor hair of them.


Perhaps you\'ve detected the source of confusion for every native speaker:

  • The past tense of lie is lay

  • The simple past and past< participle of lay is laid

  • Laid and lain are easily confused
Here\'s how to check your usage. Suppose you want to say \"The book is laying on the table\":

  1. Decide whether the verb should be
    transitive or intransitive by asking
    the question \"What?\" If there is no
    what, you need the intransitive verb
    lie, as is the case here.

  2. Be sure you\'re using the verb in the
    correct tense. Unfortunately, you\'ll
    have to memorise the forms for both
    verbs - or cut out the cheat sheet on
    this page and keep it by your desk.
    Lying is correct here.

To set or to sit?

Similar to lay and lie are the verbs set and sit. Like lay, set is transitive. The subject takes action on another person or thing. The object is required.

You set your teacup on the table. You set the potted plant by the window.

Sit, on the other hand, is intransitive. The subject is taking action and an object is not allowed.

Your teacup has been sitting on my desk for the last week.

The potted plant by the window hasn\'t been watered for ages and looks dead.

Conjugating set and sit


I set the plant on my desk every day before I leave.

Simple Past: We set the refreshments on the conference table before the meeting began.

Future: I will set the fan on the table in the corner.

Present Continuous: OK, I\'m setting my end of the sofa down now. When I\'m done, you set your side down.

Past Participle: I have set a bag of candy on your chair.

Present: I sit at my desk all day long.

Simple Past: I sat in the garden all weekend.

Future: I will sit quietly through the whole meeting.

Present Continuous: I\'m sitting in my office as we speak.

Past Participle: I have sat at my desk all day waiting for you to call.


Because sat, set and sit are so similar, they can be easily confused. To get it right, you have to memorise the verb forms or use the cheat sheet. To check your choice between set and sit, check for transitivity using \"What?\"

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Unregelmäßige Verben Englisch, Verben Englisch, Englisch Verben

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