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Miley Cyrus Gets A Grammar Lesson

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So I guess Sinead O’ Connor recently wrote Miley Cyrus a letter about not prostituting herself to the music industry. Or something like that.

In response, singer/songwriter/independent hipster Sufjan Stevens got in on the fun, writing Miley a letter about some grammar issues in one of her new songs called “Get It Right.”

Dear Miley. I can’t stop listening to #GetItRight (great song, great message, great body), but maybe you need a quick grammar lesson. One particular line causes concern: “I been laying in this bed all night long.” Miley, technically speaking, you’ve been LYING, not LAYING, an irregular verb form that should only be used when there’s an object, i.e. “I been laying my tired booty on this bed all night long.” Whatever. I’m not the best lyricist, but you know what I mean. #Get It Right The Next Time.

So there you go.

Sufjan’s grammar lesson is quite right, but I’m doubting the sincerity of his love of Miley’s music. He’s just a strange dude.

To his point, though, lie and lay are two of the most misused words in the English language.

Grammar Girl explains the correct way to use them:

If you exclude the meaning “to tell an untruth” and just focus on the setting/reclining meaning of lay and lie, then the important distinction is that lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the book down on the table (the book is the direct object).

Make sense? I mix these up when I’m talking all the time, but I’ve become decent at getting them right when I’m writing.

Enough about Miley Cyrus. Please shoot me if I ever bring up her name on this blog again.

Thanks for the lesson, Sufjan.

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. waterkat #

    Beautiful. See? We can all learn from Miley!

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  2. This is why I have an editor, to tell you the truth.

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  3. I’ve always had trouble with laying and lying. This was helpful!

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  4. I mix lay and lie up all the time, too. I loved Grammar Girl’s explanation, though. Now I just have to remember it!

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  5. Thanks for this! I have to catch myself all the time to make sure that I don’t mix up the two words. I’ll try to remember Grammar Girl’s distinction between the two.

    Like

    October 21, 2013
    • She’s great if you haven’t been to her site before. Has a lot of tips to help you remember grammar rules.

      Like

      October 21, 2013
  6. I’m glad the tense issue was also addressed in the open letter. Otherwise one of us would have been required to write an Amanda Palmer style open letter in response to his. Open letters are becoming so complicated these days!

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  7. Hahahaha! I really liked this post. Good job ;-)

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  8. It gets even worse when you get to the past tense. It’s lie, lay, lain and lay, laid, laiid. When lay is the present tense of one verb and the past tense of another, that’s really confusing. So I laid my toupee on the kitchen sink and it lay there for a week. I hope I am getting this right. Anyway you get the gist of the issue here.

    Like

    October 21, 2013
  9. While I doubt I’ve ever made a mistake in using lie and lay, I never really thought about them in terms of their grammatical use. This was an eye opener of sorts. ^_^

    Like

    October 22, 2013
  10. Reblogged this on Adithya Entertainment.

    Like

    October 22, 2013
  11. I’m just imagining a grammar teacher walking into her class and saying, “Today, we’re learning about grammar, courtesy of Miley Cyrus and Sufjan Stevens.” Definitely would be a welcome change from the textbooks, I imagine.
    –JW

    Like

    October 22, 2013
  12. Aah.. Thanks for the (out of the blue) lesson!

    Like

    October 22, 2013
  13. Except it’s music, so poetic license applies. Heh.

    Music and poetry are the two things I never grammar check.

    Like

    October 22, 2013
  14. S.m. Torres #

    And that’s just covering present tense. Then when you realize the past tense of lie is lay and the past tense of lay is laid, it just gets confusing! How can lay be both present and past? ._.

    Like

    October 23, 2013
  15. I make this mistake all the time – guilty!

    Like

    October 25, 2013

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