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Some help with words please?


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Does anyone know about the correct use if any of such words as

smell, smelt, smelled.

Lay, lie, lain, laid, laying,

Hung, hanged, hang.

It is really the *smelt / smelled* one that interests me most but I thought I would throw in the others as it would seem there might be some common factor here?

Any comments would be very much appreciated.

I?m sure I would have learned some of this stuff in class but that was fifty years ago.

(My goodness, how time flies after puberty or is that after senility?) :unsure:

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Des,

The easiest way to get advice on word usage is just to google it. "Smell smelled smelt usage" got a list of references that discuss the usage. BTW, smelled is past tense in the United States and smelt is generally used in the UK.

Lie, lay, lain, etc., is there as well and is a bit more complex because of the overlap between the transitive and intransitive forms.

vwl

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There are a whole set of "t" vs "ed" endings that are just USA vs Commonwealth differences. I grew up with leant, dreamt, etc., so that's what I use when I write. If it is third person then do what you feel comfortable with -- being consistent is the more important thing. If it's first person or dialogue, use what's appropriate for the narrator/speaker -- as the words DO have different pronouncations.

For the others, it's a fine line and the correct answer is sometimes unclear. I'm not going to even attempt to answer as it's more an editors question than a writers. I have to trust in my editor to know which is correct, because otherwise I could agonise for ages trying to work it out for myself.

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So the answer to your question (the one without the question mark) is, 'yes', someone does.

The question marked sentence doesn't seem to be a question at all.

I'm just funnin' with ya Des.

BTW, smelt is a fish. Really, it is.

Smelt

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2. Sit versus Set:

a. To sit, sits, sat, sat, sitting;

b. To set, sets, set, set, setting;

c. He sits but he sets something on something else. If it would make sense to put or place something somewhere, then it would make sense to set it there. Sit is called an intransitive verb, because it doesn?t transmit the action to an object: He sits. Set is called a transitive verb, because an object takes the action of the verb: He sets it. She sets it on the table.

d. Exception: A setting hen is sitting on her nest.

3. Lie versus Lay: * Note: This one gives me trouble too; I looked it up.

a. To lie, lies, lay, lain, lying;

b. To lay, lays, laid, laid, laying;

c. He lies down but he lays something down on something else. If it would make sense to put or place something somewhere, then it would make sense to lay it there. Lie is called an intransitive verb, because it doesn?t transmit the action to an object: He lies; he lies down. Lay is called a transitive verb, because an object takes the action of the verb: She lays it on the bed.

d. Expression: A laying hen lays her eggs in her nest, so this fits the rule.

e. (Mature Audiences Only) Yes, to lay, to lay with, to get laid takes a person as the object of the verb?s intimate action.

As Graeme said, those -t versus -d past tenses are mostly American veruss International / British / Commonwealth spellings.

hung versus hanged

It hangs. It hung yesterday. It has hung a long time.

Whoa, he's well hung!

(Unrelated to the above gentleman)

The felon was hanged at the neck until dead, and buried on Boot Hill, in a pine box.

The cattle-thievin', sheep-stealin' man was no good.

...Or so might say some in town. Doubtless others might disagree. Or perhaps not.

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Gee Wow! Five replies overnight. I am impressed.

vwl, Thanks I usually do the google-thing but I forgot about it being focussed on this forum at the time.

I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be a UK versus USA thing but wasn't sure that there wasn't some rule as well.

Thanks TR I will hunt down Elements of style.

Graeme, yes, agonise was what I was doing. It was throwing up warning signs over confusion for me as in

"He learnt many things and became a learned man." Here of course the learned would in Aussie-land be pronounced learn-ed."

Trab, here is the missing question mark for you:

?

I love being funned with. -that doesn't look right, does it? No don't answer that, it is purely rhetorical.

Being a vegetarian, I guess I shouldn't eat a smelly smelt fish that smelled then? (OK so that line stinks.) :smartass:

Blue, Yay! Intransitive verb. Yes that was what I was trying to remember. Thank you.

The sit / set on the table is interchangeable in my part of Australia.

Locally we were taught to sit on the chair but to set the table.

However we would rarely use "set it on the table", but commonly would say "sit it on the table".

I am sure this is just local usage. Same as we pat the dog, we don't pet it as I read in American stories.

I love the idea of classifying words for mature audiences.

You are all so helpful! I am very grateful for all your replies.

So I guess poetic licence would let me get away with smelled or smelt if the rhyme was needed?

Thanks to you all.

I will mention you all in my acceptance speech when I get the Nobel prize for gay literature. (Yeah right!)

:unsure:

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Des, you *can* pick up most of the differences in Australian and American usage by being alert and by being an observant reader or listener. There's also a Wikipedia article on the differences in British and American English (use those keywords). -- Ask here, too.

"He learnt many things and became a learned man." Here of course the learned would in Aussie-land be pronounced learn-ed."

Americans pronounce these with two syllables too, when they are *modifiers, (adj./adv.)* rather than verbs:

* He was a learned man. (learn-ed);

* Oh, how I long to see my beloved. (be-lov-ed); -- beloved is now usually one's partner, but in formal or poetic usage, "beloved son/daughter or other relative" would still apply.

* The aged woman made her way slowly down the hall. (age-ed);

Americans wouldn't use learnt, smelt, etc. Typically, we'd use -ed, but there are a few -t endings for us too. -- If you need to, for some writing, use an American spellchecker or buy an American-made dictionary. Examples: the American Heritage Dictionary; Merriam-Webster's Dictionary; Oxford English Dictionary;

Elements of Style by Strunk and White, absolutely.

The sit / set on the table is interchangeable in my part of Australia.

Locally we were taught to sit on the chair but to set the table.

However we would rarely use "set it on the table", but commonly would say "sit it on the table".

I am sure this is just local usage. Same as we pat the dog, we don't pet it as I read in American stories.

We'd pet the dog or we might pat the dog. It depends on the motion used.

How you were taught is the standard / proper way in formal English in the US too.

* Please set the table before we sit down to eat.

British (only British?) usage has something that sounds strange to my American ear:

* He is sat down. He was sat down.

I think that's non-standard, but I'm not sure. It looks to me like it's a way to squeak by sit/set, influenced by "Please be seated."

In the US, it's common for people to mix up sit/set and lie/lay. It was ingrained in me about sit and set, so I don't mix those up. It was the same for lie and lay, too, but I have to watch my formal usage on those.

So I guess poetic licence would let me get away with smelled or smelt if the rhyme was needed?

Australian / Commonwealth:

* practise = verb;

* practice = noun;

* advise = verb;

* advice = noun;

* licence = noun or verb;

American:

* practice = noun or verb;

* advise = verb;

* advice = noun;

* license = noun or verb;

Oh, and one Briticism that seems to be gaining ground over the net among American teens:

* prolly as slang for probably;

In writing and in formal speech, I use "probably" and "supposed to."

In very casual or hurried speech, I sometimes say, "prob'ly" or "s'posed to."

...And now you know more than you ever wanted to know...

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