Contact the Grammar Anarchist with your questions about grammar and language at
Get a personal reply at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Does a Villain Lie Low or Lay Low?

Lay and Lie have plagued us for years. When will we get it straight? Lay is the active verb that means “to place something, plop it down”; lie is what happens afterwards. The something just lies there, much as you lie motionless in bed. “Each night I lay my coins on the bureau before I lie down to sleep.”

The confusion — and it’s a major confusion — arrives with  the other version of “lay” (past tense of “lie”).  “Those damn coins lay (past tense of lie) there all night.” Who invented this idiotic language anyway?

No comments: