by Davy Kraken
A library featuring commonly committed errors of the English language.
|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.
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
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
The possum lay so still that we thought it was dead.
John F. Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
My sympathies lie with the victim’s family.
The opposing army is laying down their arms.
He has lain down on a bed of nails before.
I have never laid eyes on anything else so beautiful.
The planet Uranus seems like it’s lying on its side.
We watch as the mason carefully lays the bricks.