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March 2017

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writing goddamned verbs slithytove

i ain't a bad man, but i know i ain't good

Because it came up....

Everybody has a pet peeve, and mine is lie/lay errors. It is the one grammatical error that completely makes me rock and keen. (I have a nauseous/nauseated issue, but I've accepted in my heart that it's a losing fight and nauseous has shifted meaning. And I'm on the wrong side of peruse usage. Alas.*)

I am incapable of taking seriously any wonderful sentiments or brilliant thoughts surrounding a lie/lay error.

And apparently it's taught like shit, because it's really not hard.

Lay requires an object. Lie does not.

The past tense of lie is lay. The past tense of lay is laid.

Which is why you can lay your lover, but you cannot lie them.

And which is also why "I lay me down" is correct, but without the 'me' you must say, "I lie down."

"I laid me down," is proper in past tense; "I lay down," without the object.

If that doesn't help? Just remember that Clapton and Dylan both fuck it up.**




*NB: really, I'm a descriptivist, not a prescriptivist, and I know that a correct usage is anything a native speaker of the language does. But nonstandard use of lay just... flames. Flames on the side of my face.

**It's for the assonance. I know.

Comments

And that's one of the very few ones I have trouble sticking in my head, too. Eventually it'll manage it.

I'm on the wrong side of peruse usage

What's the issue with peruse? Have I missed something?
AIEEEEE! Usage #4 there is clearly a conflation with "peregrinate", ghod alone knows how. I notice it's marked "regional" -- let's hope to $DEITY it stays that way.
Hunh. Thanks; I had no idea. Either the skimming thing hasn't penetrated UK usage, or I'm just too old and out of touch (and/or "peruse this at your leisure" is just too deeply ingrained to let the word run free).
Just remember that Clapton and Dylan both fuck it up.

"Lie Down Sally" and "Lie Lady Lie"?

...y'know, I think I was married to that second one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqlIFLb6jU0
I remember that "discrete" means "separate and distinct" because the "T" separates the two "E's" -- I'm a medical transcriptionist so I see "discrete" an awful lot, and "discreet" hardly ever, to the point that "discreet" tends to look misspelled.
I hate that one too, only I don't know it well enough to know when I'm fucking it up. I've re-worded entire paragraphs to get away from having to guess and risk getting it wrong.

The one that bugs the shit out of me is discreet/discrete. Not least because I've now seen so many incorrect examples that my own feel for it has been compromised, and I have to stop and think about which one I need to use.

Oh, and the gift/give thing -- which also seems to be a lost cause, but I hate it with the fire of a thousand flaming suns. You do not "gift someone with" something, you GIVE it to them. "Gifted" is not the same thing as "gave" -- it's not even the same fucking part of speech!
Well, actually, there isn't correct usage, unless you're a prescriptivist. There's standard usage. ;)

(Sorry, couldn't resist. I teach this topic, after all. I joke with my students about how I teach all about descriptivism versus prescriptivism, but I have to be prescriptivist about their writing if they want to earn a decent grade. One of the first things I have to drill into their heads is to say 'standard usage' instead of 'correct'.)

I still teach lie/lay. However, the 'rules' may change in the future. I no longer make them write 'all right' as two words. In Britain, at least, newspapers all use alright these days. I still write the word as two words, though.

Anyway, Karen Memory arrived on my Kindle in the wee hours of the night as I slept. Tonight I can read it!
I no longer make them write 'all right' as two words. In Britain, at least, newspapers all use alright these days.

I'm a descriptivist by conviction, but I'm still holding the line on "all right." We all have our stretches of beach that we're trying to sweep clean of the incoming tide, and that's one of mine.
Well, I obviously still use 'all right' in my own writing. I also teach A Level English Language, and I point out the issue to students. I merely write 'all right' and 'alright' on the board and ask them which one is standard. They tend to go with 'alright'. I then show them the Oxford Dictionary entry. They are shocked to learn that they are wrong, that 'all right' is still considered standard.

Sometimes I love my job. :)
I fret at the unlovely uses of "impact".
One of the things I like about your work is the precision of your prose. It does not surprise me that lie/lay errors are a pet peeve of yours.

On the gift/give thing, I think the usage arose as an attempt to differentiate between just giving somebody something, and giving somebody something as a present in the context of a gift-giving occasion, which makes sense to me.

When people misuse "laid" near me, I emit--or write in the margin--a small cluck. A corrective gift from my chooks.

Do you meep and keen and attempt to find ways to correct the grammar of those songs when you're tired?

Because I cannot hear the Bodeans singing, "I can see, I can see good things for you and I" without going, "meeeee!" like Beaker from the Muppets.
It says a lot about how lie/lay is taught in US English grammar classes that the conjugation never stuck until I learned liegen/legen in German class. And I still sometimes have to do bizarre translation tricks to get the right one.
Oh, me too. And it's one error that's all over the place. (And one that copy editors don't catch.)

A friend of mine, way way back, wrote a short story with many common errors pointed up by correct usage.

One of the lines was:

"He laid down. Soon he would have enough to fill a set of pillows."
One of the lines was:

"He laid down. Soon he would have enough to fill a set of pillows."


Heh. I was just thinking of that line. ("Aquariums.")
That story was hilarious. Among other things it guyed the use inamac and I made, at that time, of Latin tags. We stopped.
"Hoard" vs. "horde" errors drive me batty.

Treasure comes in hoards.

Mongols come in hordes.

Is it really that hard to mix them up?

(Apparently, yes.)
"I know that a correct usage is anything a native speaker of the language does."

Q: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?
A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
-Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

Edited at 2015-02-03 03:17 pm (UTC)
Something I have been fretting over lately, if I can call it that, is whether, if one is of Faerie, and believes in all one's heart that a tail is a leg, one may say to someone who one knows does not believe so that a tail is a leg, ie. whether to speak with that assumption counts as a lie against the geas of the faeries. Or, just how much of a theory of mind do faeries have anyway.

Maybe I should lay off the psychedelics before bed? Naaaah.

Edited at 2015-02-04 04:17 am (UTC)
"Should of", "would of" is the mistake that really sets my teeth on edge.

I also have an issue with "stood" used instead of "standing", as in, "I was stood.." Same goes for "sat/sitting". But I suspect the incorrect use of sat/stood is a lost cause because I see and hear it everywhere, even on the BBC.
There is a song I absolutely adore, except that 90% of the lines begin "If I was not..." in what are clearly contrary-to-fact statements where I want there to be a subjunctive "If I were not..." I have a very complicated relationship with this song.
I am bad at the whole lie/lay thing. I blame my mother, who was as well. She was once teaching prisoners how to read and write, and was trying (probably not correctly) to teach one man the difference between lie and lay. He said, "I ain't been laid in over a year." She loved that story.
That one really, really gets to me as well. And it is just everywhere. ZELAZNY did it, for heaven's sake. Or somebody mis-corrrected his text, I guess, but honestly, probably he did it.

I don't know why that one drives me up the wall, when I have become stoic about or even accepting of a host of other usages that drove me to distraction when I was younger; but it seems that the distinction between "lie" and "lay" is more in the bones of the language. It probably isn't, but it feels so to me.

P.
Lend/loan is another one that I am on the wrong side of the shift. You lend someone money when you make a loan. Not the other way 'round.
I use "loan" as a verb in speech, but would think several times about it before using it in writing.

P.