To Lie or to Lay: That is the Question
The verbs lie and lay are among the most frequently confused words in the language. The following chart can help you use the correct form.
|lie (to rest)
||lain (have, has, or had rested)
|lay (to place– requires an object)
||laid (have, has, or had placed)
She usually lies down (rests) before dinner.
He told his dog to lie down. (Commands are given in the present tense.)
Yesterday she lay down (rested) for two hours.
The papers have lain (rested) on his desk for days.
They were lying (resting) there in a big pile.
Please lay (place) this report on the top of the stack. (Notice that lay must have an object.)
He laid (placed) tiles for the kitchen backsplash.
He has laid (placed) tiles expertly for years.
She is laying (placing) her report on his desk right now.
Try your skill in using lie or lay in the following sentences. Write the correct form in the space provided.
- I am sure that I (laid/lay) the book on the desk yesterday. _______________
- Jason angrily told his dog to (lay/lie) down. _______________
- This month’s bills have been (lying/laying) in the drawer for weeks. _______________
- The worker was (laying/lying) concrete blocks for the foundation. _______________
- Let the first draft of your report (lay/lie) there for a while before you revise it. _______________
- Yesterday I (lay/laid) in my room before the exam. _______________
- Will you be able to (lie/lay) down before the presentation? _______________
- How long have these papers been (laying/lying) here? _______________
- Will the mason (lay/lie) bricks over the concrete patio? _______________
- Mothers complain about clothes that have been left (laying/lying) around. _______________
- I’m sure I (laid/layed/lied) my keys on this counter. _______________
- The lost contract has (laid/lain) on her desk for weeks. _______________
- Please tell your very friendly dog to (lay/lie) down. _______________
- When you were (lying/laying) the groceries down, did you see my keys? _______________
- Returned books (lie/lay) in a pile at the library until the staff can return them to the stacks. ______________
Lie-Lay Writing Exercise
[Instructors: PDFs of this exercise and its answer key are at the end of this post.]
The personal pronoun myself is often used incorrectly, making the speaker sound uninformed. To use myself correctly, remember that all personal pronouns have a matching reflexive pronoun: me-myself, you-yourself, she-herself, etc. Being reflexive means the word reflects on something you do yourself (I ate the whole pie myself.) A reflexive pronoun is always the object in a sentence, never the subject, so saying Myself will lead the meeting or Mr. Singh and myself will handle the account is incorrect; myself is never a substitute for me or I.
To make sure you are using myselfcorrectly, consider these points.
- When reflexive pronouns are used to show emphasis, they are called intensive pronouns: I wrote the report myself. The sentence would be correct without myself.
- When the speaker is both the subject and object of the sentence, use the reflexive: After the presentation, I treated myself to a night out with friends.
Correct the following sentences containing myself. Note whether the rewritten sentence uses myself as the object [O], as an intensive [I], or as subject/object [S/O]. Mark the sentence with a [C] if myself is being used correctly and note why.
- Please contact Maria, Sooyi, or myself with questions about the new regulations.
- Let myself know when you’ve completed reviewing the attached report.
- I can see me in the photo.
- Give the package to Joe or myself.
- I myself saw the result of the quake’s damage.
- For people like myself, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a good job.
- The manager and myself met to discuss the matter, and we were in complete agreement.
- My colleagues and myself worked through the night to make the deadline.
- I brought in the client myself and should therefore be the liaison.
- Mark said he’d be delighted to set up a phone call for myself and Ben.
Misuse of Myself Exercise
Misuse of Myself-Answer Key
[Instructors: PDFs of the exercise and a key with suggested solutions are provided at the end of the post.]
Some people use inflated language because they think it makes them sound impressive, but using words readers don’t immediately recognize only slows them down and leads to confusion.
Use common language to rewrite these sentences. You may need to look up some of the words so you can choose simpler ones.
- The manager tendered his resignation after a catalogue of unfortunate decisions called into question his continuation as an effective leader.
- After copious compulsory exercises requiring arduous mental calisthenics, the members of the team retired to savor libations.
- It is a tricky problem to find the particular calibration in timing that would be appropriate to stem the acceleration in risk premiums.
- Due to a negative patient outcome, the legal team at the hospital adopted remediation strategies designed to avert the possibility of litigious activities.
- Once we prognosticate how upturns and downturns impact short and long-term income earning data, we’ll generate a position paper.
- We facilitated the production of hard deliverables and hit all required real-time benchmarks.
- Only a disrupter of the most comprehensive scope will enable efficacious results.
- The meeting will convey knowledge about the recent egregious affair to participants, after which salubrious comestibles will be offered.
- The disproportionate amount of grandiloquent terminology was detrimental to the ultimate goal of communicating the new regulations to the members of the audience.
- Irrespective of the necessity to terminate the contract, the quintessential goal of the assembly is to arrest all further dialogue on the issue.
Keeping It Simple-Exercise