Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Udall: Down on Colorado's Future or Just Grammatically Challenged?

The Mark Udall campaign is to be commended for a nice redesign of its website after many weeks of being under construction, which left observers wondering what Udall's positions on the issues were.

Along the top of the new page is a scrolling series of multimedia vignettes that look to have been put together professionally. The third in the series, next to a picture of Udall clipped from an accompanying video (which will be dissected later) under the heading "Find the Path Up," reads:
We're tied together - not with rope on the side of a mountain, but by a common interest in solving our toughest problems, believing in ourselves and each other, and knowing that Colorado's best days lay ahead. [Emphasis added]
Somehow, I think that's not what Udall meant to say. His writers must be grammatically challenged, or else the Udall candidacy is backward-looking and defeatist:
Lay means "to place something down." It is something you do to something else. It is a transitive verb.

Incorrect: Lie the book on the table.

Correct: Lay the book on the table.
(It is being done to something else.)

Lie means "to recline" or "be placed." It does not act on anything or anyone else. It is an intransitive verb.

Incorrect: Lay down on the couch.

Correct: Lie down on the couch.
(It is not being done to anything else.)

The reason lay and lie are confusing is their past tenses.

The past tense of lay is laid.

The past tense of lie is lay.
Is Udall trying to tell Coloradans that our state's best days were in the past? Hardly, though maybe it's a subtle message trying to let us know that Udall's regressive policies of higher taxation and greater government regulation would be just the way to hamper Colorado's chances of seeing better days in the future.

But in the end, the use of the word "lay" is likely just an instance of sloppy grammar. Kind of makes you wonder what it means to give people like Udall authority over our education system?

Voting for Udall would be a bad move for Colorado: I cannot tell a lay - er, lie.

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