How to write good: Lie versus Lay

Here’s a fun game while you’re watching television . . .

Count the number of times the actor, newsreader or commentator gets this one wrong. You’ll be amazed.

Make it like grammar bingo; first one to 10 wins.

But first, you have to know the rules. There are lots of ways to talk about subjects and objects and verbs and lots of “grammarly” things that may just confuse the issue.

Here’s a simple rule to follow:

If you can replace the word with put or place, use lay.

If you can’t, use lie.

For instance: I’m going to lay the book on the table.

You could alternatively write: I’m going to put the book on the table.

So you know lay is right.

Try this one: I am going to lie in the hammock all afternoon.

This time, you cannot replace lie with put or place, so you know it’s right.

Follow this simple rule and you’ll be right more often than not.

Author: Media Octopus

I run a Victoria, B.C.-based consulting firm providing website content management, workflow solutions, graphic design, writing and editing, and media expertise.

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