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How should I say to somebody not to tell me lies?

  • Don't lie to me.
  • Don't lie with me.
  • Don't lie on me.
  • Don't lie me.
  • Don't lie.

I am sure that, because of the various meanings lie has, some of those sentences have a meaning different from the one I want, causing some hilarious effect, if I use the wrong preposition.

"Don't lie" seems too generic. What I want to communicate is something on the lines of "You can tell lies to whomever you want, but don't do that with me."

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  • kiam, shouldn't it be "... lies to whom you ..."? If not, why not?
    – user114
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 19:57
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    “Tell me no secrets, and I’ll tell you no lies.”
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 0:19
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    There's always, "Tell me the truth."
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 0:22
  • I actually think Don't lie on me might be acceptable, possibly. It has a parallel construction in Don't tell on me.
    – TRiG
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 1:19
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    @TRiG, your suggestion is not correct. As was explained below, "Don't lie on me" has a completely different meaning and it would be an embarrassing mistake if said to someone when "Don't lie to me" was intended. Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 6:59

3 Answers 3

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"Don't lie to me" is the phrase you want.

Here's a breakdown of the rest:

  • Don't lie with me.

Don't lie (in the bed) with me. Never said, but this is what it would mean.

  • Don't lie on me.

Don't sleep on top of me. Rarely said because who wants to lie on another person?

  • Don't lie me.

Makes no sense. Lie does not take a direct object.

  • Don't lie.

Makes sense, but you're not specifying that they shouldn't lie to you in particular, but that they should not lie to anyone in general.

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    'Don't lie with me' could also be used in the other sense: "I'm the only one getting in trouble if this doesn't work. Don't lie with me - act like you know nothing, or just tell the truth."
    – mcalex
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 5:15
  • I find "Don't lie to me" to be MUCH more assertive than J.R.'s suggestion, "tell me the truth".
    – mowwwalker
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 6:37
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    "Lie does not take a direct object." -- "You're not going to lie your way out of this one!" Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 19:45
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The correct versions are "Don't lie to me" and "Don't lie." As you mentioned, "don't lie" is generic. However if you are in a conversation with a single person or group of people, saying "don't lie" will be understood as meaning "don't lie to me."

Example

Consider a scenario where several children are playing outside, and one of them breaks a window by throwing a ball. An adult might address the children as follows:

Now don't lie. Who broke the window?

The children would understand that the adult doesn't want them to lie when responding. The to me is implied and understood.

It is equally correct for the adult to have said:

Now don't lie to me. Who broke the window?

Both mean the same thing. In both scenarios, the adult is asking the children who broke the window, and saying that whoever responds shouldn't lie.

Other versions

  • "To lie with" is an older euphemism for "to have sex with." I believe examples of this usage may be found in older translations of the bible. The internet indicates this usage as "archaic."

  • "To lie on me" indicates that someone is physically lying on top of you. So "don't lie on me" would indicate that you're asking someone to not lie on top of you.

  • "Don't lie me" is simply wrong.

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  • 1
    Physically laying what on top of you?
    – TRiG
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 1:18
  • @TRiG -- The other person is physically laying on top of you. That is, Person A is laying on top of Person B. Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 2:10
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas: I think you mean Person A is lying on top of Person B.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 3:43
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    Some very good points here. If the adult said, "Now don't lie on me – who broke the window?" the children might start giggling.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 9:14
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas -- I think you are confusing the transitive verb lay ("To place down in a position of rest, or in a horizontal position") with the intransitive verb lie ("To be in a horizontal position, to rest") Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 19:48
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Lie is tricky in that there are at least two common senses: to make a false statement with the intent to deceive, or to recline or rest in a horizontal position.

Don't lie to me.

is the form to use to say, "Don't tell me falsehoods."

Don't lie.

would function as a more general moral or ethical directive— to never say untrue things to anyone at any time— except in very directed communication, as when admonishing a child.

Using

Don't lie me.

would be rather unusual. Lie can be used transitively, but mostly to say things like

The firm would never have qualified for a listing were it not for the fraud; ABC Ltd. lied itself into a public company.

The other prepositions would all strongly indicate the "recline" sense of lie.

Don't lie with me.

means "Don't lie in the same place as I do," and unless context is otherwise, suggests "Don't lie in bed for sexual relations with me."

Don't lie on me.

means "don't physically lie down on top of me."

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