Thoughts, writing

Lie vs. Lay

It’s not a pet peeve this week, just a tricky one that often gets me thinking twice, too. And lately I’ve been seeing it in all kinds of trad pubbed books as well as indie.

The dreaded Lie vs. Lay

lying-lion
This lion is lyin’ down. Ha… ha…

WHICH ONE DO YOU USE AND WHEN? It’s the frequent cry I hear in my dreams as some writer somewhere in the world stumbles upon this dilemma and proceeds to tear out their hair. WHY ARE THESE WORDS SO CLOSE BUT NOT THE SAME?

I know, my friend, I know.

So I’m going to attempt to help clear things up by sharing the tip that finally made it click in my own head. If you hear the same click in yours, huzzah! If not, it’s all right. Your time will come.

Lie is more of an active verb; lay is passive.

You lie down on the bed, but you lay the socks down on the dresser.

I lie in the grass, but I lay the blanket on the sand.

BUT WHAT ABOUT IN THE PAST TENSE???? you might scream in frustration.

A good question, because this is where grammar really hates us.

You lay down on the bed, but you laid the socks down on the dresser.

I lay in the grass, but I laid the blanket on the sand.

WHAT ABOUT THE PAST PARTICIPLE???

All right, all right, this one is a will be easier if you’ve gotten the past tense down:

You have lain down on the bed, but you have laid the socks down on the dresser

I have lain in the grass, but I have laid the blanket on the sand

Lie          Lay         Lain

Lay         Laid        Laid

If you want or need more tricks to try to make it stick, the Grammar Girl has got you covered!

Did you hear the click? Was this post helpful? Let me know in the comments!

update, writing

Pet Peeve: Nauseous vs. Nauseate

cold-and-flu-seasonWe’re heading into cold and flu season, which also means the start of hearing another one of my language peeves.

This one isn’t a full peeve. It doesn’t make my eye twitch like “impact” does, but I do notice it. I can’t help it. I can be exactly the kind of language purist whose tea you want to lace with some kind of relaxant so I’ll go to sleep and stop talk about how words should be used.

I would apologize for it… but I won’t.

This particular gripe? Nauseous vs. nauseated.

Anyone who watched or remembers Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed will appreciate this one.

Common usage says that these two words are interchangeable. Fine. I accept that, but at the very least I feel people should make a conscious decision about which word they’re using.

Nauseous means something that makes you feel ill. The rotting garbage is nauseous (not to be confused with noxious, which is something that is physically harmful or destructive). If you were to be nauseous, it would mean that your very presence was enough to make those around you feel ill.

That might be the case, who am I to say? But I find it unlikely that if someone were to provide a description of you, “makes me queasy” would be included. If so, my apologies.

Typically, however, the word you should be going for is nauseated. It’s fun to say, sounds fancy, and doesn’t run the risk of accidentally giving people the wrong impression about your personality. Win-win!

writing

Pet Peeve: Impact vs. Affect

I openly admit to being one of those people whose eye twitches when words are used incorrectly.

I know that education, and therefore proper usage, is a privilege not everyone has, so it’s not that I judge people for the way they speak, it’s more an automatic reaction, like when you hear a discordant note in a piece of music.

Some of these discordant notes strike me worse than others, so I figured I would take advantage of my platform here to share my particular pet peeves as I think of them over the next little while, and maybe play my part in weeding them out of existence.

Okay, that’s kind of a huge ambition. Language changes. I know this. As certain usages become popular, they become accepted, often replacing the original word or use. We see it all the time, and it’s a facet of the English language I find fascinating.

But I have a hard time letting go.

Take impact vs. affect.

In my dayjob, it has become acceptable to use these two words interchangeably. Every day, documents go past my desk with sentences like “This policy impacts the program.”

It’s a personalized form of torture.

Unless you are specifically talking about something physically colliding with or hitting something else, impact is not a verb, it is a noun.

Your car can impact the telephone pole.

The asteroid can impact the Earth.

In both of these cases, the result is serious injury and expense.

If your policy impacts your project, then that would suggest said policy was taken in hand and slapped against your project, or maybe stuffed into a cannon and fired into your project, or possibly raised to a height of some significance, then dropped onto your project to the distress of all involved.

However, your policy can have an impact on your project, or your policy can affect your project. Neither of these alternatives risks any kind of bodily harm, depending on the nature of your business.

For a quick and easy way to know whether you’re using impact correctly, Grammar Girl suggests an simple test: if you can use an article like “the” or “an” before impact in a sentence, than you’re likely in the clear.