Lay or Lie?

18 April 2014 by Diane

Learn about the difference between LAY and LIE with Teacher Diane’s latest video tutorial:

LAY (verb): to put down gently or carefully
LAY is a transitive verb, meaning it needs a direct object.

For example, we can say:

I lay the book on my desk.
 lays the dinner on the table.

LIE (verb): to be in or assume a horizontal resting position

LIE is an intransitive verb, meaning it doesn’t need an object.

For example, we can say:

My dog lies in front of me.
lie in my bed.

Okay, now here’s the hard part...

The past tense of LAY is LIE (this can be confusing!), and the past participle is LAIN.

The past tense of LIE is LAID, and the past participle is LAID.

Present form

Past form

Past participle







Here are some more examples to help you understand more clearly:

Present: I lie down every day when I get home from work.
Past: Yesterday I
lay down and accidentally fell asleep!
Present Perfect: I have
lain on a hammock.

Present: He
 lays all of his documents neatly on his desk.

Past: He accidentally laid an important document in the wrong place.

Past perfect: He has laid a welcome mat outside of the door of his home.

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