I have this sentence

The _____ strength of this novel is the author's life experience

And it needs a word form of lie to fill in the gap. At first, I think it's lying but it sounds weird to me.

closed as unclear what you're asking by alwayslearning, sumelic, choster, NVZ, Hellion May 16 '17 at 16:06

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  • you could use 'lay' - writersdigest.com/online-editor/lay-vs-lie – JonMark Perry May 14 '17 at 5:41
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    Why do you think it's a form of lie? Where did this come from? Is there context? – Xanne May 14 '17 at 5:45
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    Well, the teacher probably meant for the following to be the answer: The strength of this novel lies in the author's life experience, but the teacher got the question wrong. – Xanne May 14 '17 at 5:47
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    I would email the teacher and ask him/her to verify if this problem as written is a typo or not. You might want to ask if Xanne's wording was intended to be the correct one. (To show that you are making an effort to use lie/lies correctly.) – iMerchant May 14 '17 at 6:04
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    UNDERLYING strength – Mari-Lou A May 16 '17 at 6:38

The UNDERLYING strength of this novel is the author's life experience

Merriam-Webster defines underlying as: basic, fundamental

  • an investigation of the underlying issues

Cambridge Dictionaries classifies the expression as C2 (proficiency level) and says:

underlying adjective [ before noun ] (NOT OBVIOUS)
real but not immediately obvious:

  • On the surface it's a very funny novel but it does have a more serious underlying theme.
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    This could very well be the intended answer. Just too bad for the teacher that underlying isn't a form of lie, making the entire exercise highly misleading and basically impossible to complete as written. 🙄 – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 16 '17 at 6:54
  • @JanusBahsJacquet isn't the participle lying derived from lie? It's one of those transformation, Use of English, exercises that teachers give to students preparing for B2 and C1 English exams. – Mari-Lou A May 16 '17 at 7:08
  • Not quite. Lying is an inflected form of lie. Underlie, conversely, isn't an inflected form of lie, but a derivation from it. Exercises like this one that put the base form of the verb to use in parentheses usually limit themselves to inflection, not derivation—otherwise it's just too broad for any learner to reasonable find a single, correct answer. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 16 '17 at 7:14
  • @JanusBahsJacquet 99% of the time I find myself in agreement with you, but here the task is to "transform" the term, the candidates know this, and if they have been "trained" they should know that prefixes and suffixes can be added onto words, in this case we have two affixes. The task is a legitimate, and it's also a useful one. It helps learners be aware how manipulative and flexible English is. – Mari-Lou A May 16 '17 at 7:18
  • If they've established from the start that derivation may be required, then fine. But in my experience as a student who's gone through exercises like these with many different teachers in many different languages, derivation is usually not involved, only inflection. Lie -> underlie isn't transforming the verb, but creating an entirely different verb from the first. If the exercise is phrased as needing “a form of the verb __”, then this would fall wide: _underlie is not a form of lie. Of course, in more advanced levels, there's good reason to have exercises which -> – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 16 '17 at 7:49

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