|Grand Tetons photo taken by me|
At one point in my life I wanted to be a linguist. At another, an interpreter. I've studied a few languages, and now I'm a writer, so I guess you could say I have a lifelong interest in words. I'm pretty good at knowing what proper grammar is, but I'm fascinated by the way people use the English language in everyday speech.
Those of us who care, know that you can lie down, but you must lay something down. But nobody talks that way! I go in the house to lay down when I'm speaking out loud. It would sound so affected to say I'm going to lie down.
So the present tense of lie is becoming lay. Some day it will be standard English. That's the way standard English is formed, by usage. I love that about words. They are constantly being shifted and molded by the ways we use them.
There are people who want to capture words and set them in stone so that they never change. That will never happen! Language is a living thing. The only languages that are not changing are the dead languages, Latin, ancient Greek, things like that.
Someone mentioned the difference between the words 'that' and 'which'.* The first word is supposed to be used when removing it would make the sentence unclear. The building that is on the right is the one you should enter. Without the clause *that is on the right*, you don't know which building it is. Contrast with this. The building, which is painted green, is on the right. You can removed the *which* clause and the you still know which building it is. It's the one on the right, which happens to be painted green.
Anyway, someday those usages won't matter any more either, because the shifting sands of language will have covered up the difference. And the winds of time will have uncovered brand new words and brand new usages that we don't even know about yet.
*I know the single quote belongs inside the period for Americans, but if the British can do it that way, and if I prefer it that way, I can do it on my own blog. It makes more sense, OK?