lay

People Always Lie

The following is used by permission, written by Writers in the Grove member, Paula Adams, and published in the Fullerton Observer.

To Jonathan:

I love your column in the Fullerton Observer, but I got a surprise bump in the first line of your mid-September column: “I look at the picture of the boy LAYING lifeless … ” What?!

I realize the lay/lie thing is a common error (except for foreigners who usually know more of our grammar than we do), but we expect the media to do better, which it usually does.

Anyway, you need a word with your proofreader: “Lay” in the present tense requires an object – unless you’re a laying hen. Thus, I lay the book aside, and in the words of that grammatically confusing prayer, ” … I lay me down to sleep.” Without the object, we lie down to sleep, Goldilocks is lying on the bed, cats lie napping in the sun, and we lie low when there’s trouble.

Of course, our beloved English language changes the rules in the past tense (sigh), but just remember:

When stretching out for a nap in the present tense, people lie.

PEOPLE ALWAYS LIE, (sigh again).

Sincerely,
Paula Adams

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Dear Paula:

Great letter. I’m not lying to you! May we print it? I’ll lay you 8 to 5 that the editor will like it. Cheers!

Jonathan