Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Grammar Lesson, part 3 of 4

I hope you've enjoyed the last full week before Thanksgiving. Today's lesson is They don't sound alike, why are they confusing? It's brought to you by words like lie and lay, sit, sat and set. Enjoy!!

Lay vs Lie - While both are verbs, they have slightly different uses. Lie is an intransitive verb - to recline or rest on a surface. Lay is a transitive verb meaning to place somewhere, or to put somewhere. Correct usage would be: I lie down when I'm tired, but chickens lay eggs.

Sit vs Set - Again, both are verbs. Set is a transitive verb, like lay, having an identical meaning - to put or place. While you could say chickens set eggs, it's not quite as appropriate as lay. Sit is an intransitive verb, like lie, and literally means to be seated, another form of sit is sat - which is the past tense of sit. Correct usage would be I set the dishes in the rack to dry. The cat likes to sit in the sun. I sat in the recliner.

Who, which, that - Who refers to people, which refers to a thing, and that can be used in both cases, though not for an individual person - should be used for groups of people. Correct usage would be: I just saw Sally who was wearing a bright pink hat. I want to try to make peanut brittle again, which proved difficult last time. Where is the jacket that I was wearing yesterday. OR Where is the study group that was helping me with History?

See, saw, seen - While saw can be either a noun or a verb, this set of words has more to do with when something happens than the "correctness" of the word used. See is the present tense of the word, while saw and seen are both past tense. Correct usage for the word see would be, I can see the lake from here. OR I see that you are making bread. Correct usage of saw would be, I saw a bright green frog earlier. Correct usage of seen would be, I have seen the future and it's scary.  When you use the word seen, please use the word have in front of it. If you are referring to something that you saw, you should say, "I saw that," or "I have seen that," but please don't say, "I seen that." I'm begging you.

Until next week!

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