Lie or Lay?
Do I use “to lie” or “to lay?
I understand that students often get confused and don’t whether to use “lie” or “lay”, but don’t worry, so do many native speakers.
The verb “to lie” can have two meanings.
- To lie – to rest or to recline.
This is an intransitive verb and describes an action done by the subject. It will never have a direct object. It describes an action that cannot be done to anything else. Think of it as meaning “to recline” or “to rest.” It is conjugated in this manner:
- I lie on the beach every day.
- I lay on the beach yesterday.
- I have lain* on the beach every day for years.
2.. To Lie – to speak untruthfully with intent to mislead or deceive.
- He always lies to his parents about where he has been.
- Yesterday, he lied to the teacher about being sick.
- He has lied about everything he has done.
*Note The past participle “lain” is rarely used.
|tell an untruth||lie||lied||lied|
Another word commonly confused is the verb “To Lay”
3. To Lay means to put or set something down.
It is a transitive verb and therefore requires an object. so if the subject is acting on an object.
- I lay the book down.
- I laid the book on the table yesterday, but it isn’t here now.
- I have laid your clothes on the bed for you.
|To put down||lay||laid||laid|
Be careful not to confuse the past form of “lie” with the infinitive of “lay”.