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Posted by ESC on June 12, 2003

In Reply to: Lie/lay posted by Henry on June 11, 2003

: : : : : : : : : : I've heard something like "lie to take",or "line to take".

: : : : : : : : : : May you suggest what it means?

: : : : : : : : : : I am sorry not able to give you exact words.

: : : : : : : : : : TS

: : : : : : : : : I've heard the "line to take." Meaning the approach you want to take when explaining something or dealing with a situation.

: : : : : : : : As in 4a from Merriam-Webster online:
: : : : : : : : 4 a: a course of conduct, action, or thought b : a field of activity or interest c : a glib often persuasive way of talking

: : : : : : : Could the original query have something to do with the 'lie of the land,' meaning the topography of the land? Scouts were sent ahead of exploration parties to guage the lie of the land and the best 'lie to take' was based on their reports. I'm sure I've seen this usage before but cannot find any examples just now.

: : : : : : Nope. It's "lay of the land." From Merriam-Webster online: "6 : the way in which a thing lies or is laid in relation to something else"

: : : : Thank you all.
: : : : TS

: : :
: : : From "lie of the land, lay of the land"
: : :
: : : Both locutions are Standard, meaning "the way things are literally or figuratively positioned with respect to other things," as in "As soon as we get a look at the lie [lay] of the land, we'll decide what to do next." Hah!

: : I stand corrected. Humbled beyond words.

: Lie and lay are two verbs which cause a lot of problems, made worse because the past tense of I lie is I lay. To lay, to put down, is transitive and always takes a direct object - lay eggs, lay the table, lay bets. To lie, to recline, is intransitive - lie in the sun. A search for Usage "lie and lay" will produce several pages explaining the differences.

: 'The lie of the land' means 'the way the land lies' which is grammatically correct. 'The lay of the land' is found in usage too, lthough 'the way the land lays' is grammatically incorrect. It's a good example of the confusion between the two verbs.

As verbs, lie and lay are exceedingly tricky,
Like a spider web - subtle and shiny and sticky;
You can say that you lay on the grass yesterday,
But you must be a hen if today's when you lay.

A person can lay a brick. A hen can lay an egg.
But sleeping dogs (and people) lie, unless they lay down yesterday.

"Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay: (and that's no lie) Practical Advice for the Grammatically Challenged" by Richard Lederer and Richard Dowis, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1999.