(Jim Toomey)

The April 17 “Sherman’s Lagoon” comic contained the line “He just laid there at the bottom of his tank.” This is not grammatically correct. “Laid” is the past tense of “lay,” which is a transitive verb, meaning that it requires a direct object (i.e., a noun acted on by the verb). There is no direct object in the line; “bottom” and “tank” are both objects of prepositions.

The correct verb to use in this case would have been “lie,” an intransitive verb whose past tense is “lay”; thus the correct line is “He just lay there at the bottom of his tank.”

This is a very common mistake, and one that would not be out of place for just about any comic strip character.

Unfortunately for “Sherman’s Lagoon” creator Jim Toomey, however, the line was uttered by his highly erudite sea turtle Fillmore, who would never make such an error.

Jim Gaarder, Columbia