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Next to the table were two old chairs and some books.

or

Next to the table were laying two old chairs and some books.

Which one is correct?

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1 Answer 1

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They don’t quite mean the same thing, and old fogeys like me will say the second is not grammatical.

Next to the table were lying two chairs

implies that the chairs were not upright. I literally startle when I read “lay” used when it is not meant and “lie” is.

Next to the table were two chairs

says nothing except where the chairs are in relation to the table and, by absence, implies the chairs were in a normal position.

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