Lie vs. Lay

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Lie vs. Lay
Definitions
• Lie: To be in a state of rest, to do nothing
• Lay: Has action to it. Things, are changing.
If you can substitute put or place, chances
are you use lay.
The action
• Lie: The subject of the sentence receives the
action: The key lies on the table.
• Lay: The direct object (after the verb)
receives the action: Jane lay the key on the
table.
Tenses
• To lie: lie (present), lay (past), lain (with
helping verbs such as have,had), lying
– My tip: with past tense lay and lain think of
stay, stayed
• To lay: lay (present), laid (past), laid (with
helping verbs such as have,had), laying
A comparison charge
Present
Past
Present Participle Past Participle
Lay
Laid
Laying
(had) Laid
Lie
Lay
Lying
(had) Lain
But watch out for infinitives
• Infinitives consist of the word “to” plus a
verb (in its simplest "stem" form, that is
present tense) and function as a noun,
adjective, or adverb.
• She refused to lie down (needs to be present
tense)
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