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Lie vs. Lay: What is their definition?

Having to use “lie” and “lay” in a sentence or a speech can be baffling sometimes. The question is how and when should either be used?

Nicholas Adetuase
Nicholas Adetuase

Basically, “lie” is the present form of lay. “Lay,” on the other hand, is the present form of a lie’s counterpart — “laid.” We could also say “lay” is the past form of “lie.” “Lay” is a transitive verb, while “lie” is an intransitive verb. The question is how and when should either be used?

When to use Lay or Lie

The word “lay” means to place something or someone down in a resting position. “Lie,” on the other hand, means to stay or be in a flat or horizontal position. This implies that “lay” requires an object, any object. On the other hand, “lie” only requires a positioned object, as it describes the state of the object. The continuous tense of lay and lie is laying and lying respectively. They also have other counterparts that would make for better understanding. The examples below will illustrate how to use either correctly. The counterparts are in bold.

Examples for lay

Let us go and lay on the beach.
I laid* the book down on the table.

*It should be noted here that “layed” is archaic. When you are in between using “layed” or “laid”, always use “laid.”

I am laying more books on the table.

Examples for lie

I am going to lie down.
I will lay* on the bed.

*You should note that “lay” here is the lie’s past tense.

The book is still lying on the table.

How do I go about this difference?

Are you tired of wrongly using “lay” or “lie”? A good trick is to remember that “lay” is always followed by a noun, which means that “lie” will be followed by “down” or any laying object. Never forget to always say them out loud. You should note that the verbs “lie,” “lied,” “have lied,” and “lying” are unrelated. They relate to not telling the truth.

Examples of using Lie and Lay

Mulholland Drive (2001)
Dunkirk (2017)
First Reformed (2017)
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
Which is correctEnglish

Nicholas Adetuase

I'm Nicholas. I'm a copywriter with over 4 years of experience in blog and marketing copywriting, social media and posts, and more. I love writing. I am highly motivated, artistic, and creative.

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I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

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