Lay versus Lie

Confusing Words

Good morning. We have here another round of easily confused words. Without turning to Google or a dictionary, see how many of these you know off the top of your head:
  1. All six members who (compose, comprise) the school board are parents.
  2. She had (born, borne) two beautiful children before she turned thirty-five.
  3. The decorative prongs (envelop, envelope) the blue turquoise stone.
  4. As the president took the oath, he knew that it was something for the history books, that it was an (historic, historical) event.
  5. Returning home with dinner, she was surprised to find out that her recently unemployed husband had (lain, laid) on the couch for much of the morning.
  1. These words are similar, but there is one small distinction: parts compose a whole, and a whole comprises parts.
    All six members who compose the school board are parents.

  2. Born and borne are both past participles of the verb bear. Born is far more common yet has far more restrictions for when it should be used: It is used exclusively in reference to birth (either of offspring or things/ideas) and must be after a be (is, are, was, were) verb. All other times, it should be borne.

  3. Envelop is a verb that means to surround or enclose. Envelope is a something you throw in a mail box. Making things tricky, enveloped is the the past tense of envelop.
    The decorative prongs envelop the blue turquoise stone.

  4. Historic is for something that was significant in history while historical is just something that happened in or relates to the past.
    As the president took the oath, he knew that it was something for the history books, that it was an historic event.

  5. The conjugations of the two verbs lie and lay often plague writers. Outside mesmerizing their forms, you may want to print out a reference sheet.
    Returning home with dinner, she was surprised to find out that her recently unemployed husband had lain on the couch for much of the morning.
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