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Sue Sommer

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Common Grammar Mistakes (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/25/11 09:17 AM ET

Bugaboo is from the archaic term bogy boo -- a term for a hobgoblin or anything that haunts, bothers, bugs, harasses, irks, annoys, or frightens, like the bogeyman. "The Bugaboo Review" is a lighthearted examination of usage, grammar, and spelling mistakes, the bugaboos of the English language. It is meant for those who love language, for those who "know what they don't know" (or don't remember!), and for those in the process of learning English. My sources for this work range from errors made by my students, to suggestions by colleagues and friends who asked me to include errors that "bug" them, to discourses found in many other books, dictionaries, and articles on the subject.

I've left out the copious regulations that govern spellings and word usage and instead have given simple ideas to assist you with what is generally accepted among the well informed.

lay/lie
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To lay is to place something or put something down, and it must be followed by a noun or pronoun, a thing; to lie is to recline. A lie is an untruth, and to lie also means "to tell an untruth." Examples: Lay that package on the mantel, will you please? Bridgette would like to lie in the hammock near the pool. Sometimes it's tempting to lie when you're in trouble, but a lie only makes things worse. (Hint: Lay sounds like place; lie sounds like recline. But be careful: lay is also the past tense of the verb to lie: Jay lay on the couch all day yesterday.)
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