When to use lay or lie | Jane’s grammar nugget
Lay or lie | Jane’s grammar nugget
Do you know when to use lay or lie? Jane promises:
“You will impress your family and friends with your grammar skills if you can distinguish between lie and lay. However, these words confuse even the best editors, so you pretty much have to memorize a chart and then practice to build your confidence.”
Jane’s Lie vs. Lay Chart
|Present||Past||Past Participle (+ a form of have)|
|To recline||lie, lying||lay||has/have/had lain|
|To put or place||lay, laying||laid||has/have/had laid something|
|To tell a falsehood||lie, lying||lied||has/have/had lied|
Examples: To Recline
- In present tense: I like to lie down for a nap at 2:00 p.m.
- Same example in past tense: I lay down yesterday for a nap.
- Same example with a past participle: I have lain down every day this week.
- Same example with a present participle: I am lying down right now.
Examples: To Put or Place Something
- In present tense: The chickens lay eggs.
- Same example as above in past tense: The chickens laid eggs.
- Same example as above with a past participle: The chickens have laid eggs every day this week.
- Same example as above with a present participle: The chickens keep laying eggs.
Example: To Tell a Falsehood
- In present tense: I am tempted to lie about my weight.
- Same example as above in past tense: I lied about my weight when I renewed my driver’s license.
- Same example as above with a past participle: I have lied about my weight each time I have renewed my driver’s license.
- Same example as above with a present participle: I must stop lying about my weight.
If you think you can do this lying down, try the following exercises.
- I can do this lying/laying down.
- Lie/Lay down next to me and I will hold you.
- When my dog is tired, she lies/lays on her back.
- I think we can say we have lay/laid the groundwork for lasting changes.
- Henry has lied/laid consistently on the witness stand.
- Sandra has lain/laid out her plan for our vacation.
- Lie/lay on this lounge chair and relax.
I hope you did well! Keep practicing using my book, and you will feel like the expert you are becoming.
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Reprinted by permission of Jane Straus, late author of the bestselling The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, from her free Grammarbook.com e-newsletters and blogs.
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