English: Costa Concordia Polski: Statek pasażerski Costa Concordia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Operations began today to try to turn the wrecked Costa Concordia upright. In reporting this event, the New York Times published this sentence:
“On Monday, a salvage crew used pulleys, strand jacks and steel cables, placed on nine caissons attached to the left side of the ship, to slowly dislodge it from the two rocks where it has been laying.”
Where it has been laying? I thought the Concordia was a ship, not a hen. “To lay” means to put or place. “To lie” means to rest or recline. The Concordia has been lying on two rocks. Arrrrrrgh!
I’ve had a request to explain the difference between these two frequently confused words. I did post this last December, but for those of you who missed it or need a refresher, here you go:
LIE means to rest or recline.
LAY means to put or place.
When you go to the beach, you LAY your towel on the sand and then LIE on the towel.
Much of the confusion arises because the past tense of LIE is LAY: Yesterday I LAY down after work.
For the present tense (used for something we do regularly, habitually) we say, I always LIE down after work.
And for something you have done in the past and continue to do now, we use the present participle (the verb along with HAS, HAD or HAVE): I always HAVE LAIN down after work. You hate that word, LAIN, don’t you? But it’s correct.
As for LAY, I always LAY the mail on the kitchen table. Yesterday I LAID it there. I always HAVE LAID it on that table.
Now we can lay this topic to rest.