Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lay; lie (2).

lay; lie (2). Today: “lay” for “lie.” This is one of the most widely known of all usage errors — e.g.: o “If you’ve got an extra $79,800 laying [read ‘lying’] around you could become the proud owner of two vacant buildings on the southeast corner of the Canyon square.” Bill Rogers, “Buildings Priced at $79,800,” Canyon News (Tex.), 30 Oct. 1994, at 1. o “This Christmas give a gift that’s been laying [read ‘lying’] around for twelve years.” Advertisement for Glenlivet Scotch Whisky, Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 1994, at 13. Similarly, although a sickness can “lay you low,” if you’re in that position you’re “lying low.” But American journalists get it wrong as often as they get it right — e.g.: “Another reason I laid low [read ‘lay low’] was to be in a position to help a friend back out of what he now must know to be a dead end.” William Safire, “Buchanan’s Campaign,” N.Y. Times, 16 Dec. 1991, at A15. Another common mistake is “laying in wait” for “lying in wait” — e.g.: “Dunlap has been accused of laying [read ‘lying’] in wait until closing time at the Chuck E Cheese restaurant, then systematically shooting the five employees still on duty.” Ginny McKibben, “Ex-Friend Links Dunlap to Burger King Robbery,” Denver Post, 1 Apr. 1995, at B4. Next: Other Problems with “lay” and “lie.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “One may say that there are two kinds of editing; editing for correctness and consistency, and editing for sense and effect. The two kinds of editing require two separate abilities, which are sometimes, but by no means always, found in one editor.” George Stevens, “Author’s Nursemaid” (1942), in A Reader for Writers 188, 190 (William Targ ed., 1951). ====================
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