Lie / Lay

Who is lying down – the subject or the object?

 

 

 

Lie vs. Lay

LIE LAY

Use lie or lie down for an action that a person or animal does by oneself.  Lie is an intransitive verb – it does not take an object.

Use lay or lay down for an action that a person does to someone or something else.  Lay is a transitive verb – it requires an object.

Baby is lying down She is laying the baby down

The baby is lying on the couch.

She is laying the baby down for a nap.

She lies down for a nap on the couch everyday.

She lay the baby down for her nap at noon everyday.

You should lie down a little while longer.

She will lay the plans out for you.
 

PAST TENSE

I lay down on the couch to get rid of my headache last night.  (past tense)

PAST TENSE

She laid the baby in her crib five minutes ago.   (past tense)

I have lain here for an hour waiting for my headache to go away.  (past perfect)
 

She has just laid her down for a nap.   (past perfect)

Related page: Intransitive verbs   

 

 

 

 

Lie

Additional Meanings

Church lies north of town.

 

 

 

EXPRESSIONS EXAMPLES

*BE LOCATED   (v.)

The new church lies north of town.  (present tense) The old church lay to the south.  (past tense)

*BE IN A DIRECTION  (v.)

The mountains lie to the east.  (present tense)

*REMAIN  (v.)

Several ships lie in anchor in the harbor.

*EXIST  (v.)

Our choice lay between hiking east or sailing west.   (past tense)

BE LAZY (v.)

After only a couple of hours, he lay down on the job.   (past tense)

HIDE (v.)

The pirates lay low until they could escape without anyone seeing them.   (past tense)

TAKE WITHOUT PROTEST (v.)

He won't take that lying down.  He will surely fight back.

 

 

 

 

Lie  (a homonym)

Additional Meanings

Liar

 

 

EXPRESSIONS EXAMPLES

LIE  (v.)

He lies to his friends. (v.) (tell something untruthful)

He is lying now.  (present participle)

He lied to you then and has lied to you many times. (past participle)

He's a liar. (n.)

A WHITE LIE

She told a white lie to save her friend from feeling hurt.  She said, "Nice dress." (a lie with good intentions)

LIE THROUGH ONE'S TEETH

He was lying through his teeth when he said he was a doctor. He hadn't even finished high school. (lie openly, lie while smiling)

BALD (BARE) FACED LIE

The politician denied having said it.  That was a bald-faced lie. (a shameless lie)

 

homonym (n.) – a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, regardless of whether it is spelled the same or differently. (e.g. fair–fare, their–there)

 

 

 

 

Lay

Additional Expressions

laid up

 

 

 

PHRASAL VERB EXPRESSIONS EXAMPLES

BE ILL AT HOME (v.)

He was laid up for two months before he could get back to work.  (passive voice)

PUT AWAY (v.)

If they lay aside their differences, they can talk peace. 

PLACE ASIDE FOR SAVING (v.)

She lays away part of her pay check each month.

A PURCHASING PLAN (n.)

We put the new washing machine on lay-away until we have enough money.

STOP FIGHTING (v.)

The generals laid down their weapons.  (past tense)

STORE (v.)

Farmers lay in grain for the winter.

DISMISS FROM EMPLOYMENT (v.)

I was laid off during the recession. (passive voice)

ARRANGE (v.)

We laid out the table with our finest dishware. (informal speech- past tense)

SPEND (v.)

He laid out $250 for a new suit.  (informal speech- past tense)

EXPRESSIONS

 

BURY (v.)

They laid him to rest on Sunday.  (past tense)

PUT AWAY (v.)

Lay to rest any thoughts of danger.  We have fixed the problem. (stop worrying)

MAKE IT EASIER FOR (v.)

The legislation laid the foundation for more law suits. (made it easier for)

PLACE RESPONSIBILITY (v.)

They laid the blame on us.  (past tense)

NATURE OR CONDITION (n.)

The lay of the land here is hilly.

PUT RULES IN PLACE (v.)

He walked into the room and laid down the law.   (informal speech- past tense)

SEE (v.)

I haven't laid eyes on him for over a month.  (informal speech- past tense)

FAIL BADLY (v.)

The movie was terrible.  The producers laid an egg.  (informal speech- past tense)

FLATTER, COMPLIMENT TOO MUCH (v.)

He was laying it on thick telling me he couldn't live without me.

STATE CLEARLY (v.)

The officer laid it on the line and told me not to drive over 65 m.p.h. (informal speech- past tense)

STOPPED (v.)

We laid over for one hour in Los Angeles before continuing to San Francisco.

GET, ACQUIRE (v.)

I'll buy an autographed baseball if I can lay my hands on one. (informal speech- past tense)

SPEAK OPENLY AND HONESTLY (v.)

He needs to lay his cards on the table and tell us why he is really here.

DECLARE RIGHTS TO PROPERTY (v.)
 

The pioneers laid claim to the lands they found. (past tense)

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*Laid-off workers lay the blame on management.

"We're not going to take this laying down!"  

*I laid down for a rest.

*Lay down!

*She has laid in her bed all day.

SOLUTION

Laid-off workers lay the blame on management.

"We're not going to take this lying down!"

I lay down for a rest.   (lie – past tense)

I laid the baby down for a rest.    (lay – past tense)

You lie down.     (lie – past tense) 

Lay down your gun! (missing object) (lie – past tense)

She has lain in her bed all day.   (pres. perfect)

She has laid her clothes out on the bed.   (pres. perfect) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Good Dog

Town
 

 

Complete the sentence with a form of lie or lay.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
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Practice 2

Holding on to Our House

Our house
 

 

Complete the sentence with a form of lie or lay.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
13.

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17.
 So I hired a lawyer.  

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(past tense)  

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Practice 3

The Plank PositionFitness Class

 

 

 

Read for Errors

Everyday before class, we workout in the gym. First, we lay our mats on the floor. Then we lay on the ground and try to stretch out from head to toe. After that, we do sit-ups, in which we lay down and use our abdominal muscles to rise to a sit position. Most days, I just want to lay there and day dream. However, if the coach catches me laying down on the job, I will have to do extra sit-ups! Next, we lay flat on the floor and lift ourselves to the plank position. We have to stay like that for four minutes.

The guy on one side of me lays down in thirty seconds while the guy on the other side of me is planking on one foot and one hand for four full minutes! After a painfully-long four minutes, the coach tells us to lay our mats facing front and begin lifting weights. I am lifting them and thinking, "Tomorrow is Saturday and I can lay in bed as long as I want." As we leave, the coach reminds us that our choice lies between failure and success, and success is making the right decisions after having made the wrong decisions.

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
21.
Everyday before class, we workout in the gym.  First, we lay our mats on the floor. 


22.
Then we lay on the ground and try to stretch out from head to toe.


23.
After that, we do sit-ups, in which we lay down and use our abdominal muscles to rise to a sit position.


24.
Most days, I just want to lay there and day dream. 


25.
However, if the coach catches me laying down on the job, I will have to do extra sit-ups!


26.
Next, we lay flat on the floor and lift ourselves to the plank position.   We have to stay like that for four minutes.


27.
The guy on one side of me lays down in thirty seconds while the guy on the other side of me is planking on one foot and one hand for four full minutes!


28.
After a painfully-long four minutes, the coach tells us to lay our mats facing front and begin weights.


29.
I am lifting them and thinking, "Tomorrow is Saturday and I can lay in bed as long as I want.


30.
As we leave, the coach reminds us that our choice lies between failure and success.