Do you ever wonder if you should use the word “lay” or the word “lie”? Today we are going examine the “lay” vs “lie” word conundrum. When you hear the word “lay,” unless you have the context, it can mean either the past tense of the word “lie” or refer to the verb “lay.” This article will review how to use each word correctly as well as how to tackle the “lay” vs “lie” word usage confusion.
Lay vs Lie: What's the Difference?
There are two main reasons that explain why the verbs “lie” and “lay” make people confused, even among native English speakers. First, “lie” and “lay” can mean almost the same thing. Second, the past tense of “lie” is identical to the present tense “lay,” which can cause confusion. If you don’t know the difference between “lie” and “lay,” the following explanations should lay your fears to rest.
What's the difference between lay and lie?
The simplest way to distinguish between “lay” and “lie” is to know that “lay” is a transitive verb. This means that it is a verb that is used with one or more direct objects. For example:
After Joshua is done with baseball practice, he lays his glove on his desk.
On the other hand, “lie” is an intransitive verb, which means it does not have a direct object. For example:
I lie in my bed every night.
In order to tell “lay” and “lie” apart, “lay” refers something you can “lay” down, while “lie” refers to something you can “lie” in/on.
Now that we have discussed some of the differences between “lie” and “lay,” let’s look at the different definitions of each word, as well as a few more examples. This will address other confusing aspects of the “lay” vs “lie” comparison by reviewing other forms of the words, such as “lying” and “laying.”
Lay vs Lie: How to Use Them Correctly
Lay vs Lie: Definitions
Lay: to place something in a certain position or location
Lie: to be in a state of rest in a horizontal position
Lay vs Lie: Examples
Different Verb Form
Lay (simple present)
1: Please lay the coat on the couch.
2: The delivery person will lay the package on the porch.
Laid (simple past)
1: Yesterday, I laid down the grass sod in my backyard.
2: When he arrived at home, he laid down in bed.
Laid (past participle)
1: The bats were laid on the bench in the dugout.
2: The hat was laid down on the dinner table.
Laying (present participle)
1: She is laying the cards down on the table.
2: I am laying the books on the counter.
Different Verb Form
Lie (simple present)
1: Go lie down on the bed.
2: I will go lie down now.
Lay (simple past)
1: The toy lay on the table last night.
2: When I was young, I always lay next to the waterfall.
Lain (past participle)
1: The jackets were lain next to the gloves.
2: I have lain the rakes next to the barn.
Lying (present participle)
1: The dog was lying under the car.
2: The rope was lying between the two people.
If you want to double-check your grammar skills when it comes to lay vs lie, the handy quiz below can help: