Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lay; lie (3).

lay; lie (3). Part C: “laid” for Past-Tense “lay.” The “lay”-for-“lie” error also occurs with the past-tense forms — e.g.: “He laid [read ‘lay’] down flat on the ground and looked around for an object or landmark he might have missed from a higher angle.” “Pumpkin Place,” Amarillo Daily News, 4 Mar. 1996, at C1. Part D: “laid” for “lain.” Not surprisingly, the same mistake occurs with the past participles as well — e.g.: “The players — performers — will take on a problem that has laid [read ‘lain’] dormant since Peter Ueberroth caved in to the umps.” Peter Gammons, “KC May Start Enjoying Some Royalties,” Boston Globe, 25 Nov. 1990, at 58. Part E: “lain” for the Past-Participial “laid.” This is a ghastly example of hypercorrection, that is, choosing the more far-fetched (and, as it happens, wrong) term in a contorted attempt to be correct — e.g.: “But to me it seemed like the kind of thoughtless destructiveness that has lain [read ‘laid’] waste to much of the city.” Ed Zotti, “Supporters Fervent About Rogers Park’s Future,” Chicago Enterprise, May 1994, at 30. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The term ‘Fable’ is not very easy to define rigorously. In the most typical form some moral precept is set forth by means of a conception purely fantastic, and usually somewhat trivial into the bargain; there is something playful about it, that will not support a very exacting criticism, and the lesson must be apprehended by the fancy at half a hint.” Robert Louis Stevenson, Learning to Write 107 (1888; repr. 1920). ====================
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