Is it now officially okay to use “lay” for lie”?

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I’d love to know what you have seen/heard recently about “lay/lie.”

Background: Traditionally, “lay” is transitive and “lie” is intransitive. “I am laying the book down” vs. “I am lying down in bed.” I quick web search just now brought up only this distinction on every hit on the first page of results: Cambridge, Grammarly, Merriam-Webster, etc.

Yet I basically never see this distinction enforced anymore (at least in the US?), even in professionally edited work. For example, I was recently reading a traditionally published novella by a professional freelance writer, and it had “lay” for “lie” in an otherwise very standard English narration. Likewise, perusing a (fantastic) essay by [personal profile] lynnenne on the TV Interview with the Vampire, I saw a quote with Louis using “lay” for “lie” in the midst of his very standard English narration, a dialect he consciously adopts presumably because of the privilege it confers over his native African American (AAVE) dialect. So I’d imagine he’d be scrupulous with his words here, yet “lay” = “lie”? (Is he being scrupulous of the fact that in the 2020’s no one cares… yet professional writer and Boomer Daniel would probably notice…?)

Are we in a zone where all the standard grammar references say this distinction exists but society has just decided it doesn’t? Are editors no longer checking for it? Does anyone know any standard English grammar source that explicitly says, “This is obsolete,” like the split infinitive. English teacher (and miniscule minority native English dialect “lie” user) wants to know.

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Arwen Spicer
Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

Arwen Spicer By Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and writing teacher raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it turns into a desert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on ecology in utopian science fiction and is an educator on the concept of workable utopias. Her novel The Hour before Morning was hailed as “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” by Kirkus Indie.

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