Did the men die where they lay or where they laid?
by Sandie Armstrong
(Pottstown, PA, USA)
In editing my husband's novel, there are many times when the hero talks about bedding down and going to sleep. The book is a story being told in the first person about a journey the narrator took in the past. My mom always told me that the verb "to lay" should be used for hens or putting a book on a table. Our hero often says things like, "I laid down on the cold, rough ground without a blanket and tried to sleep." I think that this usage is correct, but I don't want anyone to think he woke up with an egg. In another usage of this pesky word, he says, "By morning the men had frozen to death where they lay." Grisly, but correct? Or should it perhaps be "...where they laid." or "...where they had lain."?
Thank you for your willingness to help!