Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Q & A Does snow lay or lie?

Until recently I had the dubious pleasure of topping the list for longest blog posts on the register of language blogs at One Stop English. It was, I have to say, the only list I topped. Seeing I no longer have to defend my title, I've decided to go the other way occasionally, and write some really short posts.
So this is the first of what I intend to be a regular series answering some of the questions googled by people who have landed up on this blog. And if you think this is just a shameless attempt to get more hits, damn right it is.

Does snow lay or lie?

Snow lies - from lie, lay, lain, lying (intransitive). We use this expression especially at the beginning of snowy weather when talking about new snow:
  • Look it's snowing. Is it lying?
  • No. The snow's too wet. It's not lying.
In other words, is it staying or just disappearing? But in narratives you will also see expressions like:
  • Snow lay all around the house.
  • The snow lay deep and thick.
  • A thick blanket of snow lay between the trees.
Remember that lay here is simply the Past Simple tense of lie. It has nothing to do with the transitive verb lay - lay, laid, laid, laying. Well it does etymologically, but that's another story.
Other weather phenomena like mist and water can also lie.
  • In the early mornings light patches of mist often lie in the bottom of the valley.
  • After the rain storm, water lay in puddles all over the road.
  • A thick fog has been lying over the area all morning.
  • The sun was hidden all day behind the low-lying stratus clouds.

Related posts and links

No comments: