Crimes against spelling and grammar

I’m pondering a business plan. You want to improve your writing, don’t you? Hire a team of editors to monitor your tweets and  Facebook screeds and point out your spelling and grammatical errors, your unintended alliteration, your confused idioms, your redundancies and tautologies, your dangling participles, your tired syntactical tics. The burned hand teaches best, especially when all your cruel friends point and laugh.

Okay, I’m kidding. I wouldn’t offer the service, and I’m probably alone in wanting to subscribe. But what would it look like in action? I will explore this, starting today. Today, the topic is “lay” vs. “lie.” Unless you are playing cards, you are probably wrong when you say, “I’m going to lay down.” You are going to lie down, that is, you are going to lay your body down. You “lay” something down. “To lay” is transitive; that means it takes an object; that means, like I said, you lay something down. “To lie” is not transitive, not even when it means to tell an untruth. Of course, the tricky part is that “to lie” in the past tense is “lay.”

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m laying out this pedantic nonsense. Am I the kind of pathetic guy who cringes when I see you step on the sidewalk cracks? No, because I can’t bear to look. Tomorrow, I will discuss “your” versus “you’re.” That’s an important one, because if you’re screwing it up, you will be first to be eaten when civilization breaks down. I wouldn’t eat you, but that’s because as morlocks go, I’m a rare moderate. There are more of us than you think.

If I have made you feel bad, cheer up. There are older, fouler, and more capable editors than I in the deep places of the Web. They’ll be coming for me first.

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About robertpkruger

Writer, editor, and software developer. President of ElectricStory.com.
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