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today’s grammar post

March 21, 2007

In response to the previous post, my mother asked:

Does “Now I lay me down to sleep” make you cringe? 

I actually use this one as a sort of trick question when teaching grammar. “Now I lay me” is weirdly archaic, but the verb isn’t wrong, because in this case, “me” is being used as the object. For example, both of these are correct:Now I lie down.Now I lay myself down.(But “Now I lay down” is just wrong. If you “lay,” you need to lay something).That being said, “Now I lay me” should actually be “Now I lay MYSELF.”Which sounds awfully dirty for a children’s prayer.


4 Responses to “today’s grammar post”

  1. Shaun Eli on March 21st, 2007 4:07 pm

    Good point. I am often annoyed by people using ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ when the subject and object don’t agree.

    You can hit yourself. I can hit myself. But I can’t hit yourself and you can’t hit myself because you and I are not the same entity.

    For example, if I say “How are you?” it’s fine to say “Good, how about you?” But not “I’m fine, how about yourself?” This is okay only if you and I are the same person. But if we were, I wouldn’t have to ask.

    This concludes my grammar gripe of the day.

  2. Matt Penn on March 21st, 2007 5:10 pm

    Perhaps the prayer should read something more like:

    Now I’ve lain thee. Down to sleep,
    your soul I pray the Lord to keep.
    Yet I should hie before thou wake,
    wouldst thou know me lout? Or rake?

  3. Dave O'Gara on March 21st, 2007 7:25 pm

    What if you are laying goose feathers? Example: “I lay down into my pillow.” How’s that for confusing?

  4. Anonymous on March 23rd, 2007 7:06 pm

    methinks dats right

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