Friday, September 23, 2011

The Grammar Hero is in the House! Say What?

By Kristen House
Last night, I made fried chicken for supper. It's my husband's favorite meal, and he dug into dinner with gusto. Unfortunately for him, fried chicken is also our dog's favorite meal. She sat by the table and whined while he chewed on his chicken until her begging was too much for him to handle.

"Go lay down," he said, pointing to her dog bed.

"Ahem," I said, after swallowing a bite of mashed potatoes. "I think you mean lie."

"I'm not lying," he said.

"No, no," I said. "Lie is a complete verb. It means that the dog is doing something to herself—like in this case. She is putting herself into bed, so she is lying down. Lay, on the other hand, means the dog would be acting on something or someone else. It needs a direct object to make sense. Maybe if you said, "Go lay this chicken bone on the table," that would be an appropriate use of the verb."

"Well," he said, "does the lesson come with supper, or does it cost extra?"

"For you," I said, "it's fee!"
Grammar Girl to the rescue!
  • Lie
  • Lay
Kristen House is an Adjunct Instructor of Writing at Belmont University, and the Chief Executive Muse of A Novel Idea. She writes fiction every day for hours, even when there isn't anything to write about. Kristen lives in Nashville with her husband, Andrew, sons, Holden and Shephard, and a yippy little dog named Osie.

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