Or lying? How to know the difference.
Lay and lie are two words that are often confused, even by native English speakers. This is because they sound similar and have similar meanings. However, there are actually some important differences between the two words.
Lay is a transitive verb, which means that it has an object. The object of the verb lay is always something that is being placed down. For example, you might lay a book on the table, lay a sweater on the bed, or lay a child in her crib.
Lie is an intransitive verb, which means that it does not have an object. The verb lie refers to the position of something or someone that is flat on a surface. For example, you might lie down on the bed, lie in the sun, or lie on the couch.
Past Tense and Past Participle
The past tense of lay is laid. The past participle of lay is also laid.
The past tense of lie is lay. The past participle of lie can be either laid or lain.
Which Word Should I Use?
Here is a simple guide to help you decide which word to use:
- Use lay when you are placing something down. For example, you might say “I laid the book on the table.”
- Use lie when you are referring to the position of something or someone that is flat on a surface. For example, you might say “I lie down on the bed.”
Here are some more examples:
- I will lay the table for dinner.
- The carpenter laid the floorboards.
- The hen laid an egg.
- The doctor laid the patient on the table.
- The mother laid her child down for a nap.
- The cat lay on the rug all day.
- The soldiers lay dead on the battlefield.
- I lie down on the bed when I’m tired.
- She lay in bed for hours, feeling sorry for herself.
- The truth may lie somewhere in between.
There are a few common mistakes that people make when using lay and lie. One common mistake is to use lay when they mean lie. For example, you might say “I lay down on the bed” instead of “I lie down on the bed.”
Another common mistake is to use the past tense of lay (laid) when they mean the past participle of lie (lain). For example, you might say “I laid down on the bed” instead of “I had lain down on the bed.”
Lay and lie are two words that are often confused, but there are actually some important differences between them. By understanding these differences, you can use these words correctly in your writing and speaking.
- Lay vs. Lie: https://www.britannica.com/story/lay-lie-lied-lain-when-do-we-use-which from Britannica
- Lay vs. Lie: Teacher-Approved Tips for Remembering the Difference: https://www.weareteachers.com/lay-vs-lie/ from WeAreTeachers
- Lay or Lie?: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/lay-or-lie from Cambridge Dictionary
- Lay vs. Lie – San Jose State University: https://www.sjsu.edu/writingcenter/docs/handouts/Lay%20vs.%20Lie.pdf from San Jose State University
- Lied, Laid, or Layed — What’s the Difference?: https://editorninja.com/lied-laid-or-layed/ from EditorNinja