Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 39)

Here are some more oft-misused words and phrases:

Rain vs. rein vs. reign

Wrong: He needs to reign in his enthusiasm.
Right: He needs to rein in his enthusiasm.

Wrong: There was much upheaval during the rain of King Charles.
Right: There was much upheaval during the reign of King Charles.

To reign is to rule (or it’s the period during which a ruler is in power), while reins are used to control a horse or other beast of burden. Don’t let an editor rain on your parade because you used reign or rein incorrectly.

Lay low vs. lie low

Wrong: We have to lay low for now.
Right: We have to lie low for now.

This is another case of confusion between lay and lie (addressed in an earlier post). To lay low is to kill or defeat a foe, or to knock someone down. To lie low is to conceal oneself or to bide one’s time. You might lie low until the time is ripe to lay low your enemies. (And if the time isn't yet ripe, let it sit out in the sun a little longer....)

More next time.


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