Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not taking it lying down

I went and saw that George Clooney movie the other day - Up in the Air. It's not a bad film, I enjoyed it and Mr Clooney is always nice to watch. BUT there was a moment that got me riled.

It's about half-way through. George, the corporate, shallowish jet-setter, is in his airport hotel room and receives a text from the chick who is the love interest. Some dirty texting seems imminent when she asks him what he's doing.

And his reply?

His reply?

'I'm just laying in bed.'

Laying? What is this? I think.

Picture me then leaping from my seat, fists clenched by my side, yelling at the screen:
'Laying? What? George! I don't see any eggs in that bed. No bricks, no table or even (ahem) another lady. You are not laying, you are LYING in bed! We can never be married now.'* [sits down]

I don't know, maybe the film's writers were trying to lend an air of veracity by having a character make what is a fairly common mistake. I'll give them (and George) the benefit of the doubt.

And anyway, I suppose I can see how the mistake is made. Lay is the past tense of lie - easy to get them mixed up.

OK, George, even this pedant can't resist that twinkle in your eye. But please, just try to remember:
if you are making yourself horizontal, you are lying down. If you're making something else horizontal (or producing eggs) you are laying them.

*I might not have actually said this aloud. I'm usually very considerate of other theater-goers.


  1. Hi

    You tell em!!

    Maybe it's an American thing?

    I'm joking!!!

    Such a fundamental mistake - talk about dumbing down.

    There is absolutely no excuse is there really. I wonder how many people noticed though??


    Take care

  2. I'm not sure I would have noticed if he'd just said it aloud, but it was there on the screen, in a text message close-up!

  3. Well spotted. Although, if that is the only thing standing in the way of you and George getting married I would be prepared to overlook it.
    Now I'm going to admit that I only learned yesterday, from the grammar function of Microsoft Word no less, the difference between appraised and apprised. Sometimes English is quite confusing.

  4. I bet you're not the only language pedant / George Clooney fan who came away from that with mixed emotions! :)

  5. Yes, maybe I was being a bit rash (sorry George). English can be confusing - inquire/enquire and migrate/immigrate/emigrate always puzzle me.

  6. Hampshireflyer - mixed emotions indeed!

  7. We have to fight to keep grammar alive! To keep the English language from rolling down a sewer drain. The one that's been bothering me lately is the use of that instead of who. As in, She's the girl that goes to the mall. NO THAT PEOPLE< it's WHO!

    Anyway, we need a grammar police, I think.

  8. Hi KarenG - grammar police! How many thousands of volunteers do you think there would be for that job?? Sign me up!