When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.
Today’s tip: How to use the word ‘lay’
Here’s the rule for the use of ‘lay':
‘Lay’ is a transitive verb that means ‘place or put’. Lie is an intransitive verb meaning ‘rest on a surface’. One is active, the other, passive. A hen may lay an egg, but you lie down. (Elements of Style, Strunk and White)
The verb “to lay” must ALWAYS have a direct object (a noun that receives the action of the verb)
EXAMPLE: I lay the papers on the desk. Papers is the direct object of the verb LAY. Any time a form of the verb LAY is used, it must have a direct object.
For more on the lay-lie controversy, check out Grammar Girl.
–Click to have Writer’s Tips delivered to your email box