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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Criminal Sentence 6: Songwriters, Please Don't Lay Down

"Lay back. It's all been done before."--Avril Lavigne
"Decisions that made my bed/Now I must lay in it."--Maroon 5
"Lay down."--My daughter's daycare teacher

It seems that from the earliest age, kids are being taught to "lay down." If you're like my husband, you'll say that this is just how the language is moving. I hate to admit that he's right and I can't do anything about it. To make myself feel better, I'm just going to complain about it a little bit.

If you want to use "lay," more than one person or thing is involved. You "lay" something or someone down: lay the baby on the bed, lay the grammar book on the table. If you are tired and want to rest, only you are involved and you use "lie": I'm going to lie down.

It gets a bit tricky in the past tense.
I lie down every morning. I lay down yesterday morning.
I always lay the baby down at 7. I laid the baby down at 7 yesterday.

And I just saw this quote: "I’m certainly not happy with it, by any means,” Zito said. “But this is the bed that I’ve made. I have to lay in it for the time being and I have to overcome."


Anonymous said...

" I lay awake at night." To me that sounds right because it is in the past tense. Please let me know.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

"I lay awake at night" is correct if you're talking about past tense. For present tense, it would be "I lie awake every night."

Anonymous said...

To me they both are past tense. I appreciate you quick response. I'm enjoying this website and your book.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

I'm enjoying writing it!