Media outlets flub the past tense of 'lie'


When plans were announced for late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state at the Capitol, no one seemed to struggle with the verb. But after the fact, editors and social media managers stumbled.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s trainer of 21 years, Bryant Johnson, paid tribute to her with a set of push-ups as she laid in state at the Capitol on Friday,” National Public Radio announced in a Facebook post.

NBC News tweeted: “The flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lied in state at the US Capitol.”

For news folks, those are bad errors. Unlike casual users who have a lot of leeway in how they use “lay” and “lie,” news agencies are supposed to follow the strict guidelines for these words.

Present and future tenses don’t seem to cause too much confusion, but past tense forms trip people up — even pros. So for anyone who wants to master “lay” and “lie,” here’s my recent column offering a refresher.

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