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This is the first paragraph of an article from The Atlantic.

You may have seen a recent viral video that showed a polar bear in the throes of suffering. The beast seems to be in the final hours of its life—its legs wobbling under its weight, its pupils widened in pain, its yellow fur hanging loosely off its bones—as it gnaws on trash, lays down, and shuts its eyes.

My comment: I think the underlined “lays down” should be “lies down” because “lay” is a transitive verb which requires an object but “lie” does not require one because it’s an intransitive verb.  Am I correct?


Original Post
@apple posted:

I'm kind of shocked, because advanced level non-native English learners seldom make this type of error, but I've often seen this error in many popular English scientific reports and newspapers.

Yes, this is an extremely common grammar error among native speakers. I hear the error almost daily, even in the speech of educated native speakers.

If you want to hear the error in abundance, go to any mattress store in America. You will probably hear people say things like "You should lay down on that one" and "Have you laid down on that one yet?" much more than you will hear people say things like "You should lie down on that one" and "Have you lain down on that one yet?"

Also, if you hear a native speaker say—correctly—things like "I'm going to lie down for a few minutes" and "I lay down for a few minutes around midday," you may interpret that as a sign that the native speaker has studied and cares about grammar.

Last edited by David, Moderator

Members here may find it amusing to learn that this grammatical mistake occasionally occurs in song lyrics. There was a famous example that came to my mind earlier—the phrase "lay down and die"—but I couldn't bring the song itself to mind. Now it has come to me. The song is "I Will Survive" (click here for a nice recording with the lyrics printed), by Gloria Gaynor (1978).

According to Wikipedia, Rolling Stones magazine has ranked the song #492 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The line I was thinking of is "Did you think I'd lay down and die?," which should technically be "Did you think I'd lie down and die?" I've never heard anyone comment on the error, which I'm convinced passes entirely unnoticed by most native-speaking listeners.

Hi, David and Apple,

Quite by chance, I'm listening to an old song and the lyric contains the very same mistake:

Let's take a walk together near the ocean shore
Hand in hand you and I
Let's cherish every moment we have been given
The time is passing by
I often pray before I lay down by your side
If you receive your calling before I awake
Could I make it through the night

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