Journalism professor questions why few people use the verbs “lie” and “lay,” correctly
I won’t lie to you. The verb “to lie,” meaning “to recline,” is not the easiest verb in the English language. For that matter, neither is the verb “to lie” meaning “to tell a falsehood.” I sometimes see the present participle of both verbs spelled “lieing.”
Now either you were horrified by the title of this piece and thought Ranly has finally lost it completely, or you have come to accept the misuse of the verb. Is it really so bad? Doesn’t the language change? Shouldn’t we just accept that few people will use the verb correctly?
For more than three decades I tried to teach writing and editing at the Missouri School of Journalism, and even though I sometimes doubted that I could teach writing other than to encourage good writing when I saw it (“Hey, that’s good. Do some more of that!”), I always thought that I could teach editing. And all I tried to teach is what some call Standard American Written English.