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May 25, 2022

            Our illustrious former Henderson Writer’s Group el-presidente, Linda Webber, presented grammar lessons each week on the back of our meeting agendas. The gist of them were the improper use of words. I thought I’d revisit this 2017 series as it still applies today.


            I once wrote a screenplay with my bud, Doug Lubahn (RIP), a famous musician. During our correspondence, I once told him I was waiting with “baited” breath instead of “bated” breath. He’s never let me live that one down.

            The proper use of words is something a lot of writers, especially newbies don’t always get. So, for your reading pleasure, below is a list of words and how to use them properly.

            The list is not near complete, so that’s why this is called Grammar Lesson One.

            Once again, my many thanks to Linda Webber, who went through the trouble to compile these words all in one place for me to steal and present to you here at Fred Central.

These are common words that are often used out of context. It can be a quandary for a writer and a quick trip to a dictionary or online.


            The first one is lie, lay, laid and lain.

                                    Present tense                          Past tense                   Past Participle

Be recumbent              Lie                                           Lay                              Lain


Joe is going to lie down. Beth lay on the bed for two hours. Margaret had lain on the bed for two hours.

Deposit                        Lay                                          Laid                             Laid

(set down)

Joe will lay the watch on the nightstand. Beth laid the watch on the nightstand. Margaret had laid the watch on the nightstand.

Tell an untruth            Lie                                           Lied                             Lied


Don’t lie, Joe. Beth lied when she said she liked you. Margaret had lied that night she was there.


Farther is something you can measure as in distance.

How much farther is the gas station?

Further is a continuation of a thought or idea – figurative distance.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


All together    all in one place, all at once

We gather all together to celebrate!

Altogether      completely, on the whole

That’s altogether a separate issue.

Along              moving or extending horizontally on

Move along, keep up the pace!

A long             referring to something of great length

That’s a long way!

Aloud              out loud

Meleena didn’t mean to say it aloud.

Allowed          permitted

No dogs allowed!

Altar               a sacred table in a church

She gazed up at the blood dripping from the stone altar.

Alter               to change

It’s not right to alter the sacred document.

Amoral           not concerned with right or wrong

They have an amoral view of life.

Immoral         not following accepted moral standards

Murder is an immoral way to handle that.


            There’s sure to be more to come. I’ve outlined a few common mistakes writer’s make, whether through lack of knowledge or from just typos, we all do it occasionally. It’s good to catch this stuff before we get caught with “baited” breath.

Happy writing!

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