Lay or lie | Jane’s grammar nugget

Lay or lie? Jane's Grammar Nuggets

Lay or lie | Jane’s grammar nugget

Jane promised:

“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.

Quiz Yourself

If you think you can do this lying down, try the following exercises.

  1. I can do this lying/laying down.
  2. Lie/Lay down next to me and I will hold you.
  3. When my dog is tired, she lies/lays on her back.
  4. I think we can say we have lay/laid the groundwork for lasting changes.
  5. Henry has lied/laid consistently on the witness stand.
  6. Sandra has lain/laid out her plan for our vacation.
  7. Lie/lay on this lounge chair and relax.

Answers

  1. lying
  2. lie
  3. lies
  4. laid
  5. lied
  6. laid
  7. lie

I hope you did well! Keep practicing using my book, and you will feel like the expert you are becoming.

From Kim

We love The Blue Book so much that we’ve been carrying it for years in the WriteShop store. We also include it in the WriteShop Starter Pack. It’s a combination reference book and workbook, oh so easy to use, and handy for home or office. Jane’s examples are short, simple, and practical. We know you’ll love it too! Want to read some reviews? Just click here. And to read more of Jane’s Grammar Nuggets, type  “Jane” in the search box above.

Reprinted by permission of Jane Straus, late author of, author of the bestselling The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, from her free Grammarbook.com e-newsletters and blogs.

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