Community Web Version Now Available
Why does Lovecraft use the verb 'lay' only in present? Even if one expects 'laid', it's 'lay'... Here are the 2 examples from his stories. I'd love to understand why not 'laid', why 'lay', like in the present. 1. Alos, my friend, was commander of all the forces on the plateau, and in him lay the last hope of our country. 2. Wonderful likewise were the gardens made by Zokkar the olden king. In the center of Sarnath they lay, covering a great space and encircled by a high wall.
Sep 25, 2019 2:36 AM
Answers · 5
"to lie" has the past form "lay" which is confusing given that "to lay" has the past form "laid." Lovecraft is using the verb "to lie" in the two examples. "... in him lay the last hope," is a literary phrase equal to "... the last hope lay in him," which is the past form of "to lie in." The Oxford Learner's Dictionaries are an excellent resource. Here is an excerpt. lie ​[intransitive] lie (in something) (of ideas, qualities, problems, etc.) to exist or be found The problem lies in deciding when to intervene.
September 25, 2019
Lovecraft's style is deliberately archaic (even for his own time period), but it's completely correct English. Chris has the right explanation. In the present tense, you "lie in bed." If you're talking about the past, the correct form is "lay." "Last night, I lay awake in bed for several hours before I finally fell asleep." Most native speakers do not know that this is the correct form, and they use "laid" instead. It's much more common to hear native speakers say "I laid awake in bed for several hours." It is not grammatically correct, however. Lovecraft's English is *strange* (it often sounds more like poetry than prose), but it is generally very correct. I doubt you'll ever catch him making a grammar mistake, except in dialogues where the characters are the ones making the mistakes.
September 25, 2019
This is not normal English. You could say it's Englishe, similar to the the word shoppe. It's written in a similar style to how George Martin wrote 'Game of Thrones'. It's a deliberately odd style, to give it an old-fashioned sound. When you're playing with language, there are no rules.
September 25, 2019
Never mind. I mixed up "lay" with "lie". I guess it's jut Lovecraft's way of writing. His works was written in the early 20th century, so his language might be a little outdated.
September 25, 2019
Language Skills
Bulgarian, English, Russian, Spanish
Learning Language
Bulgarian, English, Spanish