2

I read it from a textbook:

Yes, I suppose the effectiveness of convert advertisements lies in the way our society is wired.

I just found lies in the way here is quite confusing.


Then I searched lies in the way in Netspeak:

I list some results here:

According to a study published in the PLOS Genetics, it has been unveiled that men's beauty lies in the way they uses their genes rather than the genes they have.

The compatibility of a couple and the quality of a relationship lies in the way they handle their arguments and differences.

This is a film with routine plot with not many twists in the story either. But the whole difference lies in the way the director conceives the movie on screen.

My guess:

A lies in the way B can be substituted with A depends on how B:

For example:

The compatibility of a couple and the quality of a relationship lies in the way they handle their arguments and differences.

=>

The compatibility of a couple and the quality of a relationship depends on how they handle their arguments and differences.

Another example:

I suppose the effectiveness of convert advertisements lies in the way our society is wired.

=>

I suppose the effectiveness of convert advertisements depends on how our society is wired.


So, my question is:

  1. Is my guess correct?
  2. If my guess is correct, could anyone please to explain why lies in the way merely equals depends on how? And what is the meaning of lies here? if it is not, could anyone please explain the correct meaning to me?
1

StoneyB's answer is correct - to lie has the meaning of being situated or located.

My answer below addresses your guess on substituting depends on how, and how that affects the meaning of a sentence.


Your guess is largely correct, in that substituting depends on how for lies in the way usually gives the same sense, however there are some subtleties that this substitution misses.

This is because of the location sense that comes from lies in the way - that location of the cause is quite concrete.

A good place to start is your two example sentences:

The compatibility of a couple and the quality of a relationship lies in the way they handle their arguments and differences.

Here you can substitute depends on how quite naturally.

I suppose the effectiveness of convert advertisements lies in the way our society is wired.

Here the substitution does not work so well. The reason is that "the effectiveness of convert advertisements" is a definite subject, and "lies in the way" gives a definite cause. Whereas "depends on how" is indefinite.

The sentence is stating that convert advertisements are effective, because of how our society is wired. Using "depends on how" here would imply that there are many different sorts of convert advertisements, or many different ways in which our society is wired.

By changing the indefinite "a couple" to a definite couple "Jack and Jill" we can see the same effect:

The compatibility of Jack and Jill lies in the way they handle their arguments and differences.

Here this means something like: Jack and Jill are compatible, because of how they handle their arguments and differences.

The compatibility of Jack and Jill depends on how they handle their arguments and differences.

Now it implies that Jack and Jill are more or less compatible over time, because of how they handle their differences.

  • Thanks for your great explanation! I just got one more question, why the clause "our society is wired" can be introduced by "lies in the way"? I can't understand about that... – Sayakiss Dec 14 '16 at 16:19
  • @Sayakiss How something is wired is an idiomatic phrase that means what something's natural tendency is - for example, "Humans are wired to be social creatures" means Humans are naturally social. So - The effectiveness of convert advertisements is located in/caused by the natural tendencies of our society – David Hall Dec 14 '16 at 16:44
  • @Sayakiss I hope that helps - I always find it very tricky to explain idioms like this, and also to be clear. – David Hall Dec 14 '16 at 16:45
3

Lie here has the meaning is situated or is located, as in Paris lies in France or Paris lies on the River Seine. It is employed figuratively to designate a "location" where the subject or its cause may be "looked for":

I suppose that if you want to know why covert advertisements are so effective, you should look at how our society is wired.

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