Ever Had that Sinking Feeling?

I can’t stand it any longer. I have to talk about lay and lie, and then about sink, sank, sunk.

I was reading a novel the other day and, as usual, I was prepared to ignore the mistakes involving the misuse of lay and lie, but I was so bombarded by mistakes I  just felt sickened by the poor writing.

These hens are laying. Hens lay (eggs). They don’t lie (tell untruths). They lay. 

Today they lay (the eggs).

Right now they are laying (the eggs).

Yesterday, they laid (the eggs).

Tomorrow they will lay (the eggs) again.

When someone (or some animal like a chicken) places something, they lay it down. It is an action that needs an object that will be placed, like an egg.


People can lay things down too. Maybe you will lay the bill on the table and hope someone pays it. You place something in a spot.

If you are not placing something down, perhaps the word you want is “lie.”

Today I lie on the bed. (Not lay on it. That is the chicken’s job.)

Sometime in the future, I will lie on the bed.

I am lying on the bed. (Not laying eggs.)

Yesterday I lay on the bed. [Not laid (eggs) on the bed.]

So you can imagine my horror when I read that “On the sidewalk laid a pile of flowers.” I wondered what those flowers laid.

On the next page, “She would lay against his shoulder as they watched TV.” I can just imagine what a mess that was. Scrambled eggs all over the place.

But wait! Her partner then “laid on the bed.” A much better place to lay your eggs, I suppose.

Can you hear me screaming and groaning in pain as I read this book?

Ha ha! But the torture is not over yet. This same author could not be bothered to look up sink, sank, sunk.

After the flowers laid on the sidewalk, the character in the story came closer, and her heart sunk.

All of this happened within two pages. I was almost leaping up to find some pain medication.

So, the verb “to sink”:

Imagine a ship.

In the upcoming trip, we hope it will not sink.

Today it is not sinking.

Another ship just like it sank last week

I don’t know if it had sunk because it was old and rotten or if it was sunk by a torpedo.

Either way, it SANK!

So there you have it, everything but the kitchen sunk. No, the kitchen sank (it might in a bad flood). The kitchen sink!

Just ask the survivors of this ship if it sink, sank, or sunk. Actually, it didn’t sink very far … but the reputation of the author whose book I just read certainly has sunk in my estimation. Luckily, I couldn’t be bothered to remember his or her name.


15 thoughts on “Ever Had that Sinking Feeling?

    • The thing is, if you make a mistake it’s not such a big deal unless you are publishing your work. The ship? I don’t know. I found it on the Internet as a free image, but two things come to mind. It might have hit a rock and foundered, or it might have been damaged in some way and then been towed into that little bay to “rust in peace.” Not my favourite way to see boats end their days. You see that kind of thing more often in countries that don’t have strict environmental laws.


  1. Hi, Anneli! Thank you for shedding light on this obscurity. So the lyrics in Bruno Mar’s song-The Lazy song
    “Today I don’t feel like doing anything
    I just wanna lay in my bed.” is incorrect, isn’t it? I think people tend to imitate those influential people and doing such makes them fall into the trap. It is always better to verify something to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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