There's a Fine Line Between Pedant and Douche-Bag

For the past few years, I've been correcting certain people over the grammatically correct usage of lie/lay . . . not all people, just my wife and kids (because they kept telling our dog to lay down and I couldn't stand it) and my fellow English teachers (because I think they should know better) and the occasional neighborhood kid (because if you're hanging out in my kitchen, eating my snacks, enjoying my air-conditioning, then I've got the right to correct your grammar) but I think I may need to give up the ghost because:

1) it's extremely annoying, and I'm already that guy enough . . . I don't need to add to it;

2) the battle may be lost . . . Roman Mars, the eloquent host of the phenomenal design podcast 99% Invisible, botched lie and lay twice in the first two minutes of the new episode-- "Freud's Couch"-- which, of course, features lots of lying down on furniture and laying out the structure of one's subconscious . . . but here's something even more interesting: though Mars makes the typical mistake with the verb (54 seconds into the podcast and then a few seconds later) and describes how Sigmund Freud would have his patient Fanny Moser "lay" down on his couch and then he explains that when "she was laying there" he would have her talk about what was running through her mind, but in the paragraphs summarizing and describing this particular episode, the error is corrected: "when Moser came to Freud, he would have her lie down on the couch, just like he did with his other patients," which means some neurotic copy editor heard the error and fixed it in print . . . and maybe that's how it will be from here on in, it's something to correct in writing, but something to let slide during conversation . . . on a related note, I'm not sure which is correct-- "just like he did with his other patients" or "just as he did with his other patients" . . . I don't know and I'm not going to worry about it.


zman said...

I always screw up lie/lay and zwoman always corrects me. Apparently people lie down on things, but they lay things down. At least I think that's what zwoman says--I don't listen closely because it annoys her when I don't listen and I'm that guy.

00stoll said...

I assume I come under the heading of 'neighborhood kid who eats and drinks your things'.

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