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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/890221
Rated: 13+ · Book · Writing · #890221
A library featuring commonly committed errors of the English language.
#306908 added February 15, 2007 at 12:56pm
Restrictions: None
Lay vs. Lie
Essentially, to lie means to set oneself down, or to describe a person or thing’s physical or figurative position. To lay, on the other hand, means to physically or figuratively set something other than oneself down – to make it lie, if you will. People often use the incorrect word, and the fact that the verbs seem to “cross over” – “to lie” is conjugated as “lay” in the past tense – only compounds the confusion. The general definitions are rather vague, so the examples I provide will hopefully help to clarify when each verb should be used. But first, I will share their appropriate conjugations.

To lie:

Gerund: Lying
Present tense: I lie, you lie, he/she/it lies, they lie, we lie
Past tense: I lay, you lay, he/she/it lay, they lay, we lay
Perfect tense: I had/have lain, you had/have lain, he/she/it had/has lain, they had/have lain, we had/have lain

To lay:

Gerund: Laying
Present tense: I lay, you lay, he/she/it lays, they lay, we lay
Past tense: I laid, you laid, he/she/it laid, they laid, we laid
Perfect tense: I had/have laid, you had/have laid, he/she/it had/has laid, they had/have laid, we had/have laid

Examples:

*Bullet* The possum lay so still that we thought it was dead.
*Bullet* John F. Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
*Bullet* My sympathies lie with the victim’s family.
*Bullet* The opposing army is laying down their arms.
*Bullet* He has lain down on a bed of nails before.
*Bullet* I have never laid eyes on anything else so beautiful.
*Bullet* The planet Uranus seems like it’s lying on its side.
*Bullet* We watch as the mason carefully lays the bricks.
© Copyright 2007 Davy Kraken (UN: kraken at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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