‘is lying’ vs ‘lying”

I’m trying to figure how to reduce my use of words like ‘is’, ‘are’ and ‘being’.

  1. A dog is lying on the floor.

  2. A dog lying on the floor.

Why should I always write "A dog is lying"? I think the second one gives the same meaning and is short and sweet.


Lying is a present participle, a non-finite form (see the verb-forms tag wiki).

An independent clause (complete sentence) requires a finite verb.

  • The finite forms of lie which agree with the third-person singular dog are lies (non-past) or lay (past).
  • A non-finite form (infinitive lie, present participle lying, past participle lain) may be combined with a finite form of an auxiliary verb to form a finite ‘synthetic’ construction (has lain, is lying).

But a non-finite form without a finite auxiliary cannot act as the main verb in an independent clause; it can only act as a noun, adjective or preposition.

A dog lying on the floor is thus not a complete clause but only a noun phrase: the noun dog modified by the participle phrase lying on the floor acting as an adjective. The entire phrase acts as a noun within a sentence; syntactically it is no different from a yellow dog or a vicious dog.

Joe kicked [a dog lying on the floor]. … Joe kicked [a yellow dog]. … Joe kicked it.
[A dog lying on the floor] growled at me. … [A vicious dog] growled at me. … It growled at me.

If you really must avoid using the verb BE you may employ a finite form of LIE and write:

A dog lies on the floor.

But unless you are constructing a description or narrative cast throughout in the ‘present tense’, it is very unlikely that this way of saying it would be idiomatic.

Source : Link , Question Author : T2E , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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