I Lied—Or is That Laid?
I love the English language dearly, but it shows all the signs of having been designed by a committee, probably the same committee that abandoned the Tower of Babel. As a result, whether “sch” is pronounced “sk” or “sh”, for example, has become the stuff of morpheme warfare. (Say that one five times after a few “shooners” of ale!)
Perhaps the most confusing piece of word used—and one of the most often bungled—is the lie/lay boondoggle. I’ve seen big-name-press publications misuse this one, and it drives me up the wall. (Probably up the last standing wall of the Tower of Babel.)
I could stand on the rooftops and shriek “Learn your transitive and intransitive verbs, people!” but there are problems. One—it's not the catchiest battle cry in the world. Two – the police have told me that if I keep doing it, they will have to charge me under the city noise ordinance. However, rather than gnash my teeth and wail (because my dentist complains about the teeth and my neighbours throw shoes if I wail) I decided to come up with a handy mnemonic to help sort out the confusion. Here it is:
Lay (the naughty one)
There you go—lie versus lay well and truly sorted out.
No, no, you’re quite welcome.