Are lawyers a lower form of liars? What’s the difference between lie and lay? And what’s a layer? All this and more in this episode of……Aprender Inglés con Reza y Craig.
Hi Craig, this is Alberto again.
First of all thank you for keeping doing XanX excellent work.
I´d like you talk about common mistakes of Spanish speakers using idioms.
For example in Spanish we say “día a día” and when we translate this expression we say “day to day” but the correct expression is: “day by day”
Regards to Reza, his Spanish is cool.
day-to-day (adj./adv.) – Occurring on a routine or daily basis: “the day-to-day movements of the stock market.” (movimientos diarios/cotidianos)
Subsisting one day at a time with little regard for the future: ‘I lived a day-to-day existence when I first started teaching English.’ – month to month
day by day (adverbial expression composed of three words, NOT an adj./adv.) – gradually and progressively: “His pain decreased day by day as his injuries gradually healed.” (día tras día)
Idioms that are different in English
“All mouth and no trousers” = “All bark and no bite” – Perro ladrador, poco morador
“And they (all) lived happily ever after.” – Vivieron felices y comieron perdices
“A piece of cake” / “as easy as pie” / “like taking candy from a baby” – Pan comido.
“As red as a beetroot.” – rojo como un tomate.
“By the skin of your teeth” / “a close shave” – Por los pelos.
“In for a penny, in for a pound” – De perdidos al río.
“A pain in the neck/ arse (British) / ass (American) – un/a pesado/a
“To wear the trousers” – Cortar el bacalao
“Go to hell!” / “Get lost!” / “Get out of here!” – ¡Vete al carajo!
“Not for all the tea in China” – Ni muerto
If you can think of any idioms that are different in Spanish to English, send us a voice message. speakpipe.com/inglespodcast
Audio feedback from Josep from Barcelona (Josep is ‘totally hooked on’ our podcast)
‘review’ and ‘revision’
To do revision – to revise for an exam (in US English you may hear ‘review’ for repasar)
To revise a text – to edit, amend, bring up to date
You can revise your opinion on something
To write, or read a review for a film, play, video game, phone, song etc. to review a piece of software or an app.
Can you review (check) my email in Spanish before I send it?
Good luck with the exam, Josep!
Liar, Layer, Lawyer, Lower, Lie and Lay
To lie, a liar, he’s lying.
Lawyer – law (to break the law)
Layer (capa) a layer cake, layers in photoshop
Lower – the comparative of ‘low’
Lie and lay
To lie and to tell a lie. Lie also means to recline (tumbarse, echarse)
Lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie on the bed (no direct object), but you lay your phone on the table (the phone is the direct object).
‘I’m going to lie down’ (no object)
Things get tricky in the past tense:
‘Lay’ is the past tense of ‘lie’ – tumbarse/echarse, but NOT ‘lie’- mentir. ‘I lay down on the bed because I wasn’t feeling well.’
Lie – lay – lain (Yesterday I lay on the beach until the sun went down) (Be quiet! Mum’s lying down) (I have lain on this bed many times)
Lay – laid – laid (‘Yesterday I laid my cards on the table told my boss what I thought of her.’)
Which of these lyrics is/are wrong?
- Bob Dylan – Lay lady lay, lay across my big brass bed (wrong! It should be ‘Lie lady lie’)
ABBA – Lay all your love on me (Correct!) – ‘Lay it on me, man!’ (lay the truth on me – ‘the truth’ is the object.
Kris Kristofferson – Come and lay down by my side. (Wrong! It should be ‘lie down’)
Eric Clapton – Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms (Wrong! It should be ‘lie down, Sally’)
In practice, many native speakers confuse “lie” and “lay”.
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Full transcriptions are now available for episodes 131, 134, 135 and 136
On next week’s episode: Cooking vocabulary and our favourite recipes
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FULL TRANSCRIPTION by Arminda from Madrid (Thank you so much!)
Are lawyers a lower form of liars? What’s the difference between lie and lay? And what’s a layer? All this and more in this episode of “Aprender inglés with Reza and Craig”.
Hello and welcome. I’m Craig. And I’m Reza. And with over forty years of teaching between us we’ll help you improve your English and take it to the next level. Hi Reza! Hi Craig! How are things? Pretty good. How are you doing? I’m fine. You’re looking really well, I must say. Craig has lost a bit of weight, he’s been on a diet and he looks really good, I have to say.
I’m on a see-food diet.
Oh! What type of sea food?
When I see food, I eat it.
I think we’ve got some feedback this week. So, before we begin with our topic this week of liar, layer, lawyer, lower, lie and lay, let’s look at some feedback from Alberto. Reza, could you read that for us? What does Alberto say?
Yes, Alberto has written an email, and he writes:
Hi Craig! First of all, thank you for keeping doing an excellent work. I wouldn’t say “an”, would you, there, Craig?
No, because work is usually uncountable.
So, first of all thank you for doing excellent work. I’d like you to talk about common mistakes of Spanish speakers using idioms. For example, in Spanish we say “día a día” and when we translate this expression we say “day to day”, but the correct expression is “day by day”. That’s right! Regards Reza. Oh! Thank you very much, Alberto. His Spanish is cool! “Hombre, muchísimas gracias, hombre … pero… bueno”.
So, Mr. Cool Spanish, do you agree that “day to day” is “no se dice”, it’s not really a common expression in English?
I disagree. Me too. I would say there is an expression “day to day” but there’s also an expression “day by day”.
Yeah! I agree.
This is called mumbling. I’m mumbling, when you go mmmm. I’ll stop mumbling and I’ll try to talk normally. Craig, how could we describe the differences between those two expressions.
Well, “day to day” can be used as an adjective or an adverb and it just means happening or occurring on a routine or daily basis. For example, you could say “the day-to-day movements of the stock market”,”movimientos diarios, movimientos cotidianos de la Bolsa”. Another example could be “I lived a day-to-day existence when I first started teaching English”, from month to month, or day-to-day, or week to week. So that was how I lived on a day-to-day basis.
So that’s like subsisting. That’s surviving. Day-to-day. You didn’t really know what was going to happen the next day, only one day.
I took each day as it comes, every day as it comes. So, I didn’t plan ahead, so that’s another use of day-to-day.
In fact, another way of saying that meaning of day-to-day as subsistence would be each day at a time. I lived each day at a time. That’s another meaning of day-to-day.
Now, day by day, “día tras día”, is more like an adverbial expression composed of three words.
Because day-to-day is really one word, isn’t it? Strictly speaking. With a little hyphen, that’s “guión”, in the middle. It’s one word. And day by day is three words.
Exactly. And remember, with day-to-day, the “to” is often weak because it’s in the middle of the two days, so it’s [dayteday]. That’s the pronunciation. Day by day, is not an adjective or an adverb and it means gradually and progressively. An example would be: His pain decreased day by day as his injuries gradually healed. “Ha mejorado día tras día”. His pain decreased, went down, day by day. So, I hope that’s clear, Alberto. And Alberto’s email got us thinking a little bit about idioms that are different in English to the ones in Spanish. Can you think of any, Reza, that we could tell the listeners about? Different idioms, when you translate them they’re not a direct translation.
Yes. It’s a very rich area, idioms, because sometimes there is even more than one idiom for saying the same thing in English or in Spanish. For example, in English we can say: All mouth and no trousers.
“Todo boca y sin pantalones”.
If you translate it word for word. But, of course, it’s generally not a good idea to do that with idioms, because they’re often completely different. In Spanish, it’s “perro ladrador, poco mordedor”. All mouth and no trousers. But you can actually say that another way in English which is very similar to Spanish. You can also say: All bark and no bite. It’s the same meaning as “all mouth and no trousers”. So, one of them, all bark and no bite, is quite similar to Spanish, whereas all mouth and no trousers is very different to the Spanish version.
So, you could say, for example, the teacher seems really strict or the boss seems really hard and really serious and your class mate or co-worker would say: Oh! Don’t worry about him, don’t worry. He’s all mouth and no trousers.
He is not really going to do anything bad. Because, have you ever noticed, Craig, that it’s the little dogs which bark most, have you noticed that? The little dogs often bark a lot. Whereas big dogs don’t bark a lot but big dogs, if they bit you, you’d be in real trouble. They don’t need to bark, they’re just big and that’s enough to scare you. Whereas the little dogs feel they need to bark just in case you’re not taking them seriously, right?
What about Berta? If you are a new listener Berta is Reza’s favourite dog and love of his life. Is Berta a dog who barks a lot or not?
Well, in keeping with her breed, that’s “raza” of dog, breed, b-r-e-e-d, she virtually never barks. Because greyhounds, “galgos”, typically, hardly ever bark.
And they’re also fairly big, aren’t they? They are not the biggest but they are fairly big dog.
Fairly big but very slim. They’re not particularly strong but, being big dogs they tend to bark very rarely indeed.
So, there’s another idiom which in Spanish is “vivieron felices y comieron perdices”, which when you translate that into English, it’s not exactly an idiom, is it? But it’s what we’d say, do you know what that is in English?
Yes, in English we kind of say what really happens. So, and they all lived happily ever after, which is what happens at the end of a children’s fairy story, yeah? We hope. So, I guess it is not strictly speaking an idiom in English. And in Spanish I’m sure it’s not absolutely necessary to eat partridges, “perdices”, to be happy. So, in Spanish it definitely is an idiom.
It’s always seemed very strange to me, eating partridges.
So, just to clarify, an idiom means an expression where the words are not exactly used in their real or normal meaning. So, when you say “vivieron felices y comieron perdices” we’re not saying really that they ate partridges, “perdices”, you know. But when we say in English “and they all lived happily ever after” you could say that maybe that’s actually true, so, maybe that’s more like an expression rather than strictly an idiom.
Partridges, though, are generally quite expensive birds, aren’t they? They’re usually eaten by people with money. So, I suppose if they have a comfortable life then they’ll be eating a bird like a partridge so it kind of make sense, I suppose.
I don’t know but, yeah!
I’m trying to find some sense.
Do you know what? From a British or Irish perspective, yes, because partridges are associated with upper class, aristocracy, because they go hunting, don’t they? for partridges and pheasants and things, true! However, and just for Alberto, I’m going to break into one of my Spanish accents. Alberto, you praised my Spanish: “hace años, cuando yo vivía en Extremadura se comen muchísimo las perdices. Es un plato muy, muy típico de Cáceres, pero muchísimo. Yo cuando vivía en Cáceres, Extremadura, comía muchísimo perdices. Es muy extremeño.” In case nobody understood that, including Spanish people, in Extremadura, in Spain, they eat a lot of partridges. It’s a very typical dish in Extremadura, which is one of the poorest parts of Spain, curiously. So, I was surprised when I arrived in Spain and it was a typical poor person’s dish to eat partridges. So, it’s quite different to Britain, I think. So, I don’t know why the Spanish say that. Quite often we don’t know where idioms come from, they just appear and we’ve got them and that’s it!
Another one that maybe you know in English. Do you know how to say “pan comido” in English? Is it “bread that’s been eaten”?
No. Again literal translation there doesn’t work. I can think of a few. I tell you one and see if you can tell me another. You could say “a piece of cake”.
I would pass the exam. Oh, it was an easy exam. It was a piece of cake.
Can you think of any other synonyms for a piece of cake?
Perhaps more used in American English “as easy as pie”. “Pie” is “pastel” or very often, …
“Empanada” could be, as well.
“Empanada” yeah, like apple pie. Americans eat a lot of apple pie and pumpkin pie, “calabaza”. So, as easy as pie means very, very easy.
I can think of another one which is realli illogical but people say it “like taking candy from a baby”.
Candy son “dulces, algo dulce, caramelos”, sweet things in general.
But that’s not easy, is it?
It’s not easy, exactly!
Have you ever tried taking candy from a baby? It’s difficult.
He’s going to cry, he is not going to give it away easily. So, it’s another of those idioms that we don’t really know where it comes from because it’s supposed to describe something that’s easy, “pan comido”, but I would say it’s hard!
Or maybe a baby isn’t strong. So, they don’t have, they can’t … You can take it by force and they just cry.
Yeah. There’s nothing they could do to stop it. It could be that. But isn’t it a strange expression? It’s more American, that one, isn’t it, “like taking candy from a baby”? Like “as easy as pie”. And I would say “a piece of cake”, […]
There is a more vulgar version of “a piece of cake” but we are not going to say it. A piece of something else.
A piece of p-i-s-s.
Next one, “rojo como un tomate”. We don’t use tomato, do we?
No, although tomatoes are red, but we prefer to say “as red as a beetroot” in English, which is “remolacha”. “Tan rojo como una remolacha” is our version of your tomato.
So, if you’re embarrassed, you can say “he went as red as a beetroot”. He was so embarrassed.
Do you like beetroots?
I do, yes, when they are pickled.
Ah! What does “pickled” mean?
Pickled means put in vinegar, like preserved, so onions can be pickled in a jar. Pickled onions, pickled beetroot. I’ve always liked beetroot.
I eat pickled beetroot but I must say I prefer the reverse, when they are not pickled. Have you ever had roast beetroot that isn’t pickled.
No, I don’t think so. Is it nice?
Oh, it’s beautiful, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself because in a lesson coming up soon we’ll be talking about food.
So, if you like food listen to our podcast next week and we’ll have lots of food vocabulary. “Por los pelos”, I escaped “por los pelos”, what does that mean? I passed the exam “por los pelos”.
One I can think of: “by the skin of your teeth”.
Wait a minute. “Teeth” does not have skin.
True. True. But, again, I say don’t look for any logic in idioms. They just are what they are.
By the skin of your teeth.
“La piel de tus dientes”, imagine that!
I passed the exam by the skin of my teeth. There’s another one that you could use: “a closed shave”. “Shave” is “afeitar”, so, if you shave very closely to your skin, it’s quite similar, really, to the skin of your teeth; it was a closed shave. I nearly had an accident in my car, it was a very closed shave. It nearly happened but it didn’t.
I guess it’s the idea of when you’re shaving, if you go a bit too far you could cut yourself, right? So, you want to get a nice, good, clean shave but without going too far that’ll be bad. So, it kind of make sense that one!
And if you know “por los pelos” because you’re Spanish, you could make the association with hair and shaving or maybe hair on your teeth, and if you have that picture, that image in your head, of hair and shaving, then you’d remember the expression “a closed shave” in English.
Craig, there’s a classic which Spanish people often use to kind of make fun of their lack of knowledge of English. I’ve often heard Spanish people say: “from lost to the river”.
The translation of “de perdidos al río”.
But they shouldn’t because we don’t say that in English.
We do not.
What do we say in English for that?
I would say “in for a penny, in for a pound”. Again, “in for a penny, in for a pound”. So, penny would be, speaking of money, is it “penique”? or “pound”, “esterlina”, “una libra”.
So, where do you think that expression comes from? What kind of context originally?
I would guess that it means “I commit totally”. So, if I’m going to put a penny on something happening I would equally put a pound which is a lot more money. So, I’m totally committed, a hundred percent going for it.
Craig, a word you hear a lot in Spanish is “un pesado”, “es una pesada”. “Este es un pesado”. How can we say that in English?
Well, I wouldn’t say “a heavy”. “A pain in the neck”, neck is “cuello”.
“Un dolor del cuello”.
Yes. That new guy in the office, that new guy. He’s a pain in the neck. He’s a right pain in the neck. Or if you want to be a bit more rude, a bit rudder, “un poco más fuerte”, you could say “a pain in the arse”, in British English, or American’s would say ass. So, it’s not very polite at all. “A pain in the neck” is nicer, is more polite. “A pain in the arse” is stronger, “más fuerte”.
It’s a bit nicer to say “a pain in the neck” but it’s not exactly a compliment. “Tampoco es un piropo”, “eres un pesado”.
Do not say it to somebody’s face unless you know them very well. I could say it to you, you’re a pain in the neck, and you’d know I wasn’t serious, I hope.
I’d know that you were partly right, and I couldn’t really disagree. I’ll have to agree that you were partly right, “darte la razón”.
But it depends on your relationship with the person you’re speaking to.
Craig, in your house, who wears the trousers?
I wear the trousers. The secret of a good relationship, with or between any couple, is that one thinks he wears the trousers and the other one wears the trousers but lets the other one think they wear the trousers.
And you didn’t say but I presume the other one is she.
Well, it could be she, it could be he. It could be either. But, to wear the trousers, I didn’t know this expression in Spanish. ¿“Cortar el bacalao”? I didn’t know that.
Who’s cutting the cod? Obviously, it was at one time a very important thing, the one who cuts the cod, but in English, no. It’s “who’s wearing the trousers?”
How do you say “vete al carajo” in English? “Vete al carajo”.
There are a few things I can think of, “go to hell” or “get lost” or “get out of here”.
Get out of here.
That’s more American, isn’t it? Get out of here!
Get lost! And, what is “carajo” in Spanish, I’ve no idea?
I just know it’s not a good place, if you are sent to “al carajo”.
Let us know, if you know what “carajo” means, I would be happy to learn something.
Craig, would you, right now, take off all your clothes and run outside and shout “Hola, hola, hola” at the top of your voice, completely naked?
Not for all the tea in China.
Not for all the tea in China, which is “ni muerto” in Spanish. I would not, definitely not.
I imagine there’s a lot of tea in China. So, if you were to get all the tea in China you’d be a very rich man or woman. But no, Craig wouldn’t even run around naked for all the tea in China. It’s just not worth it. “No vale la pena”.
If you can think of any idioms that are different in Spanish to English, any more, please let us know. Send us a voice message with your idioms in Spanish and English and we will include them in a future episode. You can contact us by voice on speakepipe, s-p-e-a-k-p-i-p-e.com/inglespodcast. And that link, where you can leave your message would be in the show notes to this episode at inglespodcast.com/141.
Now we have some audio feedback from Josep, from Barcelona, who tells us he’s totally hooked on our podcast, “que está enganchado”. Let’s hear from Josep, from Barcelona.
Hello Reza, hello Craig. My name is Josep, I’m from Barcelona. I’d been listening to your podcast just for a couple of weeks now. I discovered it playing with the phone one night and I’m totally hooked now. So, I wanted to thank you for the good job and congratulations also for it. I also discovered other podcasts from your advice and I’ve been also listening to other like Luke’s English podcast, which I found also very interesting but […] I think your side is more instructive, and you teach a lot of grammar and uses and then when I don’t want to learn so much then I listen to Luke’s instead. I want to ask you a question if I may. I am self-studying, I’m […] advanced exam, Cambridge Advanced certification exam next month, well, first of March, and I have a question regarding the words review and revision. What’s the difference? How can I use better one or the other? Review and revision if I may ask you that. Thank you and congratulations on your fantastic podcast. Thank you very much. Bye!
Thank you, Josep, for your lovely voice message. Really, really good English and I did love the fact that you think you’re learning more with us than with Luke, who is a good friend of ours and we know Luke very well and I must play him your message because it’s always nice to be better than another competing podcast, even though we are good friends.
Yes, Josep, and your question is a tricky one, tricky, “dificilillo”. It’s tricky, the difference between revision and review. Well, let’s start with revision: you can do revision for an exam, to do revision or the verb to revise.
That’s what British people will probably use, isn’t it? You have to do a lot of revision. Have you done your revision? I need to revise for my exam. That’s what I would say for “repasar”.
But in American English you do hear the word review used for that. An American might say “I’ve got to review for my exam”, it’s possible. So, it’s not a hundred percent clearly defined, it depends on if you’re British or American.
And you can also revise a text, you can use the verb revise for editing a text that you’ve written, for amending a text or bringing something up to date, “hacerlo al día”, so you’re revising something to make it more current and better as well.
So, Josep, already you can see that it’s going to be a bit tricky to translate into Spanish if you try, because to do revision, to revise for an exam “repasar”, definitely in Spanish. But to revise a text could be “editar”, so, it’s hard to get a fixed translation. And then, Craig, you can revise your opinion on something. What does that mean?
You could think one thing and then you learn some facts or you look at something in a different way and you change your opinion. So, you can say “I revise my opinion on politics”, for example. So, you change your opinion because you’ve learnt new things. So, that’s another strong collocation “to revise and opinion”.
So, that would be in Spanish like “reformular o cambiar” or something like that, wouldn’t it? All of those are revise. And then, you can use the word review for giving opinions about things, like, you can write a review about a film, a play, that’s “una obra de teatro”, a video game, a new mobile phone, how good is it? For different categories, you know, for the sound, the memory, the camera. You can write a review about a song, lots of things! You can write a review about a restaurant, a software, app, a holiday, a hotel … giving your opinion about how good something is. That’s a review, isn’t it?
Yeah, but be careful because the person who writes the review, the person who does the review is a critic, and that’s where the false friend could cause you to make a mistake, because critic in English is not “crítica”, “crítica” is review. So, it’s confusing.
Yeah. But the person who writes the review, a professional, is a critic, right?
Yeah! I read a review on line and the critic said that the play was good, for example.
But, for the word review we don’t say criticism. A criticism is just when you say you don’t like something, like, I don’t like the fact that people throw explosives […] in Fallas in Valencia. They throw fire crackers, “petardos”. That’s my criticism of Fallas. It’s something I don’t like about it.
Or the listener criticises Reza’s singing, for example.
Yes, and that has happened more than once. And I’m afraid it may even happen again!
He is not going to stopping singing unfortunately. Another use of review, I could say: can you review, please, review my e-mail in Spanish, before I send it. So, that use of review is just to check. Can you check my email in Spanish or English? Can you review my e-mail?
So, Josep, we hope that helps but we realise that it’s not a hundred percent clearly defined there the difference.
And, good luck with the exam in March, Josep. From your voice message, you’ve got very high level of English and I’m sure you’ll be Ok. Just remember to do a lot of revision.
Liar, Layer, Lawyer, Lower, Lie and Lay, Reza.
What? It all sounded the same to some listeners!
Pronunciation is a problem but which one should we start with?
Liar, “mentiroso, mentirosa”.
Yeah! And the verb from liar?
To lie, which is l-i-e. And the pronunciation of the noun, liar, you’ve got the vowel sound “ai”, “ojo”, “ai”, lie, and the schwa sound. So, it’s liar, liar.
And how do you write the present continuous, he’s lying. If the infinitive is l-i-e, what’s the present continuous?
Well, the “ie” changes to a “y”, “y griega”, so, you’ve got l-y-i-n-g. He’s lying about it or she’s lying to me.
That’s the same as die, isn’t it? Dying. He’s dying, “está muriendo”, would be d-y-i-n-g, as well. Ok, Craig. What’s a lawyer?
Lawyer is “abogado”. And that’s a common confusion with Spanish speakers, the different vowel sounds. So, liar and lawyer. So, the sound, the vowel sound in lawyer “abogado” is “oi”, the same as boy or toy. “Loi” with the same schwa at the end. So, lawyer, “abogado”, liar, “mentiroso”.
And then, what’s “una capa” in English.
“Una capa” is layer. So, again, the vowel sound “ei”, like cake, or may, or stay, layer, layer is “capa”. Can you think of examples of layer?
Yeah! You’ve said the word cake, a layer cake. A cake with lots of layers, “un bizcocho con muchas capas”. You may have the chocolate bit, then cream, then the fruit bit then another bit of chocolate, then another bit of cream, etcetera. Different layers. Or layers in Photoshop, when you add different types of effects, one by one, they’re the different layers, “las capas”.
Have you ever used Photoshop?
Never in my life! Although, if we released video rather than just audio, Craig and I would probably need to use Photoshop to improve our image. But thankfully, we’re just audio for the moment.
Photoshop different heads and bodies on us! But I’ve tried, I’ve played with Photoshop but the layers in Photoshop really confuse me so I haven’t really produced anything with Photoshop because the layers are complicated for me to understand.
Craig, what about the word lower?
Lower, “más bajo”, the comparative of low. So, lower. I could say: this flat is lower than my upstairs neighbour. So, it is in a lower position, “más bajo”.
Ok, Craig. Two verbs that many people, I mean many native speakers, as well, mix up are to lie and to lay. That’s lay, l-a-y. What can you tell us about those verbs?
To lie, l-i-e, or to tell a lie is “mentir”. So, you’re lying to me. Lie also means to recline, which in Spanish is “tumbarse o echarse”. The difference is, lay, l-a-y, needs a direct object and lie, l-i-e, does not.
What does lay mean?
Lay means to put something on a surface. So, you can lay your phone on the table, for example. So, you’re putting the phone on the surface of the table, that’s lay, l-a-y. Now, the phone is the direct object, you’re laying something on the table, you’re laying the phone on the table. You can also lay your pen on the table, you can lay the cup on the table, you can lay the bottle on the table. So, you’re putting it on something, you’re putting something on something. However, lie does not have an object. So, one example would be: I feel bad I have a headache, I’m going to lie down. So, I can’t say lie down me or lie down the phone. Lie down is a phrasal verb, but there’s no object. I’m going to lie down.
Ok, Craig. That’s in the present or going to, but things get a bit tricky once we go into the past tense. Because lay is not only an infinitive, to lay, but it also, coincidentally, is the past tense of lie, when lie means “tumbarse”, but it’s not the past tense of lie when it means “mentir”.
How confusing is that!
So, the past tense of “mentir”, lie, is regular: yesterday, I lied, “mentí”, that’s regular. But, the meaning of “tumbarse”, lie, is irregular, for example: I lay down on the bed because I wasn’t feeling well. So, that’s past tense. I lay down. “Me tumbé, me eché en la cama”. I lay down, the past of “tumbarse”, lie.
So, let’s look at the three forms of those two verbs, lie, l-i-e and lay, l-a-y. So, lie, without the object, which is “tumbarse”, lie, lay, lain. For example, yesterday I lay on the beach until the sun went down, until the sun set. Yesterday, I lay on the beach, or: Be quiet! Mum’s lying down; so, that’s the continuous. And with the third form: I have lain on this bed many times. That’s unusual, you don’t hear that very often, do you? I’ve lain on the bed.
You should hear it but a lot of people don’t know it or they forget it. A lot of people would say there: I have laid, but they would be wrong! They’re wrong but you will hear it. The correct past participle is lain.
So, as Reza said at the beginning, many native speakers make mistakes with these verbs, so, we’re telling you the correct way, the correct way to use them but if you make a mistake is not the end of the world because many native speakers also confuse these two verbs. So, that’s lie: lie, lay, lain and lay, with the object, the direct object, is lay (infinitive), laid, laid. So, it’s the same in the third and second form. For example, yesterday (pasado), I laid my cards on the table and told my boss what I thought of her. There’s another idiom, to lay your cards on the table. Yesterday I laid my cards on the table, I was honest with my boss.
It comes from playing, for example, poker, when you show your opponent what you have, you put your cards on the table and now they know what you really have. Before, they didn’t know but when you lay your cards on the table, now they know. So, lay, laid, laid. So, the word lay, l-a-y, can be an infinitive or it can be the past simple of lie. It’s confusing, we know.
What happens often in songs is that mistakes are made in grammar. And we spoke about this recently that in songs you don’t always hear correct grammar. So, I’ve taken some lyrics, some words, “letras”, from the internet about famous songs, first one is by Bob Dylan. Try to tell us if the lyrics are correct, in your opinion, or if they are wrong.
For example, lay, lady, lay, this is Bob Dylan, lay, lady, lay. Lay across my big brass bed. Do you remember the song?
No, it doesn’t sound familiar to me.
Lay, lady, lay; lay across my big brass bed.
It rings a bell, yes.
What do you think? Is that correct or no?
It sounds good but it doesn’t sound correct. I think the correct English would be: lie, lady, lie. Lie across my big brass bed.
Yes, because you lie down, so, there’s no object. So, it’s wrong, Bob!
You lie down or you lie across, in this case. You can put lots of different prepositions with lie: lie across, lie down.
Yes, so, it should be lie, it should be lie, lady lie. But because of the “a” in lady, it doesn’t sound very nice. So, that’s probably on purpose. Lay, lady, lay sounds nicer than lie, lady, lie.
Also, it might be to avoid confusion, although they use the incorrect English to avoid confusion. Because if you say lie, lady, lie, it could be “miente, mujer, miente”.
True. It’s true. I didn’t think of that. That’s true.
The next song is by Abba. I don’t remember this one. Do you know this one?
Can you sing it? Just, not the whole song.
I can’t actually. I know the title, it’s on the tip of my tongue what the melody goes like.
It’s “lay all your love on me”.
Yes. I definitely know the song. “Lay all your love on me” is correct English.
Because as we said earlier, to lay takes a direct object. Lay, what? All your love.
So, you’re laying your love. Lay your love on me.
If you lay something on somebody it’s to tell them the truth. Like lay it on me, man! I think Craig said earlier. Tell me the truth.
Lay it on me, man. So, the truth is the object, you’re laying the truth on someone.
Bob Dylan an American, as far as I know, got his grammar wrong. Abba, foreigner, Swedish people, got their grammar right. Abba were not native English speakers. They are foreigners and their grammar was correct.
Here’s another one by Kris Kristofferson: Come and lay down by my side. Correct or incorrect?
It sounds perfectly good but it’s wrong. It should be “lie down by my side”, because it’s “echarse, tumbarse”. So, although it doesn’t sound bad at all, it is, in fact, wrong.
Next one is one of my favourite songs by Eric Clapton: Lay down Sally, and rest you in my arms. You know that one, right?
Yes. Again, it sounds all right but it’s wrong. It should be “lie down, Sally” because it’s “echarse”. So, it seems that in pop music they particularly fond, enthusiastic, they’re fond of getting it wrong, because it sounds good, to get it wrong.
In practice, many native speakers confuse “lie” and “lay” and if we have managed to confuse you, please remember that you can see all our notes on our webpage, at inglespodcast.com/141.
Speaking of native teachers, you can find a native teacher to help you with your English at italki, who are sponsoring this podcast. Now, Italki have a wide selection of native teachers who can help you with your English on a one to one basis. So, if you feel you need help, you need coaching, you need somebody to practice your English with and teach you grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc. and help you with your mistakes and your fluency, why not go to italki and have a look at their website. They’re offering, at the moment, one hundred italki credits, if you sign up through our website and you can find more information at inglespodcast.com/italki. And we want to say thank you to italki for sponsoring Aprender inglés con Reza y Craig.
Craig, I think that’s about it for this week but, of course, we can’t leave you without mentioning our lovely sponsors on Patreon. We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who are donating money on Patreon, with the hope that someday, we might be able to get all our transcriptions done professionally. Although, let’s not forget that at the minute, Arminda, from Madrid, has been doing some transcriptions for us and a big, big, thank you for her as well. Craig, could you remind me who our Patreon sponsors are, please?
With pleasure. A big thank you to:
Lara Carlos, Zara, Mamen, Juan, Sara Jarabo, Corey Fineran, Manuel, Jorge, Raúl, Rafael, Daniel, Manuel Tarazona, Mariel, Maite, Lorena, and we have a new patrón, a new sponsor, Pedro Martínez, who’s kindly sponsoring us for 3 dollars a month. Thank you so much to all of you, we really appreciate your support and a big thank you to Arminda who now has translated four full transcriptions and they are episodes 131, 134, 135, 136. You can find them on the webpage, they are available to everybody for free. So, thank you so much, Arminda, for your continued work on the transcriptions.
Craig, what have we got lined up on next week’s episode?
As we said before, we’re going to be speaking about cooking vocabulary and our favourite recipes, so if you’re feeling hungry and you want to know how to speak about food in English, please, join us next week for cooking vocabulary. Just before we go, remember you can send us a voice message on speakpipe, at speakpipe.com/inglespodcast and, of course, if you prefer email I’m email@example.com or there’s me, Reza, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful week, thanks for listening and until next week is goodbye from Reza and it’s goodbye from Craig. Goodbye!