Sadly I still come across the misuse of lay/lie.

Here, once again, are the declensions of lay and lie.

Present Tense

I lie (down) right now.

He/She/It lies down right now.

We lie down right now.

You lie down right now.

They lie down right now.

Other forms:

am lying, is lying, are lying

e.g. I am lying on the bed.

Past Tense

I lay down yesterday.

He/She/It lay down yesterday.

We lay down yesterday .

You lay down yesterday.

They lay down yesterday.

Other forms:

have/has lain

e.g. I have lain on the bed long enough.

Here comes the tricky part. When the subject of the sentence is setting something down, the present and past tenses go like this:

Present Tense

I lay (the parcel on the bed) right now.

He/She/It lays (the parcel on the bed) right now.

We lay (the parcel on the bed) right now.

You lay (the parcel on the bed) right now.

They lay (the parcel on the bed) right now.

Other forms:

am/are laying

e.g. I am laying the paper on the chair.

Past Tense

I laid (the parcel on the bed) yesterday.

He/She/It laid (the parcel on the bed) yesterday.

We laid (the parcel on the bed) yesterday.

You laid (the parcel on the bed) yesterday.

They laid (the parcel on the bed) yesterday.

Other forms:

was/were laying

e.g. The hens were laying an egg a day.

have/has laid

e.g. They have laid enough eggs to feed the whole family.

And lastly, there is the verb to lie when it means to tell an untruth.

Present Tense

I lie

He/She/It lies.

We lie.

You lie.

They lie.

Other forms:

am/are lying

Past tense:

I lied.

He/She/It lied.

We lied.

You lied.

They lied.

Other forms:

were lying, have lied, had lied

This reminds me of a story. A little boy of about six or seven told what his mother suspected was a lie. His mother had no way of knowing for sure so she said, “Okay. Stick out your tongue. If you’re lying I’ll know because your tongue will be black.” The boy refused to stick out his tongue and she knew he had been lying to her.


Say You’ll Come

Young Julia was hopelessly in love with Michael. Handsome, kind, and fun to be with, he played the violin so sweetly, and he doted on Julia. Unfortunately, war came and circumstances made it difficult for their romance to continue.

Fast forward twenty years. World War II has been lost. Julia, now a widow with two small children, is trying to rebuild  her life after postwar atrocities left her raped, homeless, and deported.

Gradually she rebuilds her life, but her new husband is hard to live with at times. Sure, he loves her, but you would never know it, the way he treats her.

A letter arrives from Canada. “You can’t believe how happy I am. Twenty years I’ve been searching for you and at last the Red Cross has found you.  Please come to me in Canada for a better life. Say you’ll come. Love, always, Michael.”

By some miracle, her first sweetheart is still alive.  What to do?


Julia’s Violinist is available at Click here:

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For all e-reader types, you can download Julia’s Violinist from Click here:

Five More for your List


Morale (accent on the second syllable) usually refers to the general mood of a person or group. Are they enthusiastic and encouraged, or are they discouraged?

Moral (accent on the first syllable) is a lesson, often learned in a story like a fable. How often have we heard, “And the moral of the story is….”?


If someone has a flair for doing something, they have a natural talent or special skill. For example, my friend has a flair for home decorating.

A flare could be a light spreading out in a fan shape, a blaze, or a device that produces that flash of light. It could also refer to the fan shape of a pantleg. In the ’70s, pantlegs flared out at the bottom.


A flash of light in a thunderstorm is lightning (no e).

If something gets lighter in colour or in weight, we could say the sky is lightening, or the load is lightening. Think of getting lighter, as in to lighten, therefore, it is lightening.


Those cubes with dots are called dice. One of the cubes is called a die. But dice has been used as the singular for so long, that it is now accepted as meaning one or more cubes.

And now for the most fun one – how do you spell a teeny tiny thing?

It is minuscule.

I think I have always spelled this one wrong because I was thinking “mini,” when I should have been thinking “minus.”

There is only one i in minuscule, but there are two u’s.

Here Come the Relatives


When do you put a hyphen in the words for relatives? When do you use a capital letter?

I still struggle with the hyphenation. The capitalization is easier.

It works a bit like mom and dad. If you use the word as the proper noun (like a person’s name), it’s capitalized.

e.g. Did you bake a pie today, Grandma? Did Mom help you?


My grandma baked a pie. My mom helped her.

Same goes for aunt and uncle.


Are your aunt and uncle in town?

Yes, Aunt Mary and Uncle John are visiting us.

And now for hyphenation.

All the “grands” are one word:

grandmother, grandma (not gramma), grandfather, grandpa (not grampa), grandson, granddaughter (yes, it has two d’s), grandchildren.

If you put “great” in front of these words, put a hyphen after “great.”

great-grandmother, great-grandma, great-grandfather, great-grandpa, great-grandson, great-granddaughter, great-grandchildren.

If you need to add another “great,” add another hyphen.


The in-laws get hyphens; the outlaws don’t.

brother-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, parents-in-law.

The blended family gets special treatment.

half sister, half brother (no hyphen, separate words)

stepsister, stepbrother, stepmother, stepfather, stepparents  (no hyphen, ONE word)


step-granddaughter, step-great-grandson


This would give me a headache, so I make a quick list where I can look them up. If you want you can just print this page.




Sun, Moon, and Earth: Capitals or Not

These are important celestial objects, but do they need a capital letter?

In the case of Earth, I just capitalized it. That’s because I used it the way I would use a person’s name, without putting “the” in front of it. If I were speaking of the earth, I would not use a capital letter.


I live on Earth, and I love the earth. 

There are a few oddities to note.

In an idiom, such as “move heaven and earth” or “down to earth” or “Where on earth have you been?” there is no capital. But when you use it as the proper name it is spelled with a capital.

The sun and the moon are not capitalized in non-technical usage. They are always in lower case when used in the plural.

How many moons does Jupiter have? 

Could any of the stars we see be suns with planets around them?

  • While we are at it, here is a reminder that heaven and hell are not important enough to warrant capital letters.