Lay Vs. Lie

“Lie” and “lay” may be the most confusing words in the world for writers. As an editor, I see the confusion all the time. I even double check myself sometimes! I hate these words but there’s no way around it.

Here’s how I get it right: I use a chart!

I Want to say

Present  

Past

To rest/recline lie is lying/they are lying

Jack is lying in the cot.

The cows are lying in the field.

lay or has/have lain

Yesterday, I lay in bed with a migraine.

He shouldn’t have lain in bed that long.

 

To put or place down lay is laying/they are laying

I’m laying this mug on the counter and leaving.

C’mon, they’re laying the pizzas down!

laid

She laid the book down.

To be dishonest lie is lying/they are lying

Jack is lying about where he’s been.

They’re lying about who was there.

lied

After I paid, I learned that he lied.

It’s really confusing. I apologize on behalf of the English language.

-E

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