Confounding the Copy Bitch: You Can Die Happy Now

I may be The Copy Bitch, but that doesn’t mean I know everything (I don’t). I often turn to my fellow scribes and editors (many of whom lurk on Facebook) and ask for their help. As you’ll see from the following transcript, not even we “experts” always agree. I was going to create a post about how to use “lay/lie” based on the following conversation that took place on my Facebook today, but I realized that the transcript was pretty amusing as is and I couldn’t improve upon it. So I’m including it below. (I’ve only removed the last names to protect the innocent.) And yes, you should learn something from it.

The Copy Bitch, as posted to her status update on 11/16/09: Grammar Geeks: when “hand picked” is used as a verb, is it one word or two…and if two, do you need a hyphen? “…but rather one that had been hand picked by a professional.”

Tracey: Isn’t it two words? Isn’t picked the verb and hand is one of those thingies that modifies a verb? Clearly I’m not a grammar geek, but for the most part speak goodly.

Christine: Yes, I would hyphenate it. The words are going together as a phrase, with Hand modifying picked.

Steve: Tough one. If homemade is one word then handpicked should be, too. However, store-bought is hyphenated. I’d go with one word. Sounds like the AP would agree.

Linda: Ask @FakeAPStylebook on Twitter… you might get a really great answer. 🙂

The Copy Bitch: well if my grammar geeks can’t agree, the general public probably won’t get caught up in it 🙂 I had it as “hand-picked” but was doubting myself.

Linda: I would put “hand-picked” also.

Steve: Dictionary.com and webtser.com list it as one word. But then who am I but just another “grammar geek” no one listens to.

Tracy (without an “e”): I would hyphenate. I also think the copy bitch should do one on “lay” versus “lie.” It drives me crazy when my yoga teachers say to ‘lay’ down on my mat. It’s LIE, people, LIE, LIE, LIE.

The Copy Bitch: Steve, did you say something? 😉 Seriously, I value your opinion and we do SO listen to you. Tracy (without an “e”): I suck at the lie/lay/lain thing (hey, we all have our weaknesses) and need to consult a dictionary whenever I have to write the word and then usually find a different word, just to avoid making mistake. I also avoid making left-hand turns whenever possible. 🙂

Tracy (without an “e”): Well, if you ever want a guest blogger, I’m there with the lie/lay/lain thing.

The Copy Bitch: Do you have any tricks for keeping them straight? I’m not above admitting my weakness in writing and quoting your tricks for keeping them straight. Would make for a funny post. And I’d learn something.

Tracy (without an “e”): Yes. “Lay” as a present tense always takes a direct object (as in “now I lay me down to sleep” or “Lay your mat down on the floor” or even “lay yourself down on your mat.” But if you are just telling people to lie down on their mats (not to lay themselves down), then you use ‘to lie’ because it doesn’t take a direct object. And the past tense of “lie” is “lay”, so I think that’s where people get confused, e.g. Last night at eight, I lay down in front of the tv and fell asleep.

Tracy (without an “e”): I think the technical way of putting it is that “to lay” is transitive.

Josh: Copy Bitch, you’ll never land Clooney if u admit you stink at the “lay thing” 🙂

Tracy (without an “e”): Quoting Josh would make for a much funnier post.

[Editor’s note: Agreed.]

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4 replies
  1. Kelsey
    Kelsey says:

    The dictionary actually has both handpicked and hand-picked, which is how I ventured here. Thanks for the help, The Copy Bitch.

    xoxo, a grammar nazi

    Reply

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