Back to school again with Grammar class 101. This time I'm going to focus on a few confusing words, which many misuse quite often. It happens more than you'd think and in situations from people you wouldn't expect. Of course, that only perpetuates the misuse. Gotta love the English language!
First up, and it's a biggie, is the misuse of the verbs to lie and to lay. In this case to lie is not referring to the meaning of telling a fib, but rather to recline. If you're familiar with the grammar term "direct object" this might be easier to understand. If not, please be patient. I will use examples to help clarify.
--to lie: I lie on the bed.
--to lay: I lay the book on the table. (notice the underlined words, the book; that's a direct object.)
**Remember: Lay will always have a direct object when it means placing something or putting something.
Now, let's go on to create a chart (it helps me to refer to this and maybe it will for you, too):
To lie (meaning to recline)
present tense: lie (I lie on the bed)
past tense: lay (Yesterday, I lay in bed until noon.)
past participle: lain (I had lain in bed until noon three days last week.)
To lay (meaning to place something or put something)
present tense: lay (I lay the book down on the table.)
past tense: laid (I laid the book on the table yesterday.)
past participle: laid (I suddenly remembered I had laid the books on the table.)
Don't be discouraged if you get lie and lay confused. Some of the greatest figures in society have done so, too. Remember Bob Dylan and his song "Lay Lady Lay"? It's wrong! Should be "Lie Lady Lie". Eric Clapton? "Lay Down, Sally"? Eh, eh. Nope. "Lie Down, Sally".
You want more common grammar confusion? How about there, their, they're? It's really quite easy to remember this way: there has the word here in it. Therefore, it means location. Example: I left the book over there by the door. The word they're is a contraction. Remember that the apostrophe (') is the replacement for a letter. They're = they are. Example: They're (they are) going to the party together. Of course that leaves their. One trick to remember is to focus on the letter i in the word. I can prompt the idea of possession. Another trick is the word heir inside their. An heir inherits so things belong to him, i.e. possession. Example: They needed to bring their books to class.
A couple more?
Accept/Except : I accept your apology. Everyone came except Tom. The first one is a verb.
Affect/Effect: Lack of sleep affects your health. The effects of poor health may kill you. Again, the first one is a verb, second one a noun.
Enough for now. Class is over. However, I'll be back with more word confusion next week!
Enjoy life and write well!