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To Sit or to Set. (This one’s easy!)

If you were able to conquer ‘lie’ and ‘lay’, then the verbs ‘to sit’ and ‘to set’ are fairly simple to use.

The intransitive verb sit means to assume or be in a position. It never takes an object to complete the meaning. So: “Today I sit; yesterday I sat; I have sat; I am sitting.”

The transitive verb set means to place or put. It needs an object to complete the sentence. “Today I set the book on the table; yesterday I’m sure I set the paper there too; I have set my pens on the table many times; I am setting the ink there now.”

Just like with lie and lay, you can use the same test word ‘place’ to see if you need to use sit or set. You can’t say, “My dog placed on his bed all morning.” So, the proper sentence would be, “My dog sat on his bed all morning.” You would say though, “I set his water bowl next to him.”

      TO SIT
      present tense ~ sit
      past tense ~ sat
      past participle ~ sat
      present participle ~ sitting
      TO SET
      present tense ~ set
      past tense ~ set
      past participle ~ set
      present participle ~ setting

See? I told you that was easy!

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To lie or to lay? That is the (confusing) question.

The verb ‘to lie’ means to assume a position or to be in a position. It takes no object in the sentence. “Today I lie down; yesterday I lay down, I have lain down; I am lying down.”

The transitive verb ‘to lay’ means to place or put, and requires an object to complete the sentence. “Today I lay the book on the table; yesterday I laid it there; I have laid it there frequently; I am laying it there.”

An easy test when deciding which verb to use is to replace lie or lay with place or put. You can’t say “I place in the hammock.” So, it would be “I lie in the hammock”. But “I placed my book on the side table” is correct. So you could say, “I laid my book on the side table.”

      TO LIE
      present tense ~ lie
      past tense ~ lay
      past participle ~ lain
      present participle ~ lying
      TO LAY
      present tense ~ lay
      past tense ~ laid
      past participle ~ laid
      present participle ~ laying

Hope that little reminder helps. Next time we’ll decipher ‘sit’ and ‘set’!


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But I used a spell-checker!

Of course you used your spell-checker. I can tell because there are no spelling errors in your story. But… You knew there had to be a ‘but’, right? Consider this sentence, “Their ain’t nothing right about this hear sentence.” Run that through your spell-checker and it’ll inform you there are no errors. It is, however, loaded with grammatical problems and while ‘their’ and ‘hear’ are spelled correctly, those are not the proper choice of words for this usage. Some editing programs will point out a few more complex mistakes, but there aren’t many that can do the same job as a real, live person.

Many of you are aspiring authors and question the necessity of hiring an editor to review your final manuscript. It’s another expense before you ever get a chance to offer your best-seller to the public. Instead, view it as an investment. You’ve already put your precious time into enthralling your readers with your imaginative creation, you should want the work to be presented as professionally as possible.

Don’t forget my current special: If you’re a first-time author, I will edit your work for FREE! If you’ve only published one or two things, go ahead and ask me about a discount for your next work. 🙂