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I have the following sentence in my résumé:

My passion lies in analyzing complex algorithms.

Someone pointed out to me that it is not correct, and that it should be:

My passion is analyzing complex algorithms.

I found this reference, but it only addresses the first version. Which is correct? If they are both correct, which is 'better'? My native language is not English, so I'm having a hard time deciding.

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  • The link shows this: "Lies" is when the subject is doing the reclining. "Lays" is when the subject is putting something down. The problem is that the past tense of "lie" is "lay"--so, you would say your passion "lies" today, but that yesterday it "lay" somewhere else. This doesn't answer the question. It doesn't even answer the question it was intended to answer: "lies or lays?". "Lies in" is idiomatic and a verbosity for "is". The context is "What register to you want?", "What style do you want?", "Who are you talking to, your sister or a grande dame?", & "Which do you prefer?"
    – user21497
    Oct 12, 2012 at 8:51
  • Discussion of the website in the link is not really relevant here. (And in any case, the quality of answers and questions on Yahoo! Answers is subject of debate.) I only included the link to show my due diligence in searching the web first. Oct 12, 2012 at 9:17
  • Yes, I wasn't discussing the answer in the link, only commenting on the fact that contrary to your assertion, it doesn't even address the first version. Barrie England's answer is helpful and, IMHO, correct.
    – user21497
    Oct 12, 2012 at 9:54

1 Answer 1

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You can say both. Which you choose depends on context and context is a big subject. The first example is a little more formal, and is more likely to occur in writing. The second example might come in a conversation in which a previous speaker had said something like ‘What I really like is doing quadratic equations.’ But it really isn’t possible to cover all the possibilities in a few sentences.

Did the person who objected to the first say why it wasn't correct?

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    Can you elaborate on 'depends on context'? In which contexts do I choose the first versus the second, and vice versa? The person who objected is not a native English speaker either. I did not ask, but I assume that it seems wrong because it is a literal translation from Dutch, which is often a red flag. Oct 12, 2012 at 8:41
  • Context is a big subject, but the first example is a little more formal, and is more likely to occur in writing. The second example might come in a conversation in which a previous speaker had said something like ‘What I really like is doing quadratic equations.’ But it really isn’t possible to cover all the possibilities in a few sentences. Oct 12, 2012 at 8:55
  • Thanks. If you can edit that comment into your answer, I'll accept it as the answer to my question. Oct 12, 2012 at 9:04
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    Well, that does make a difference. I hesitate to suggest how you should write it, because it depends on what the reader might expect and on how you choose to express yourself. But generally a résumé is written in rather less emotive terms and you may want to consider whether passion is the right word at all to explain your attitude to analyzing complex algorithms. Oct 12, 2012 at 9:27
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    I'm sorry, but I am not really qualified to advise on writing résumés. Oct 12, 2012 at 9:47

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