LIE vs. LAY
I would not be a liar if I told you that
People lay their puppies down.
Puppies lie on people.
People lie on beds.
It is bad to lie to a friend.
It is also bad to get laid off (that is, set aside by your employer.)
Lie means, “to repose.” It is intransitive and never takes an object, as in,
I lie down to sleep.
A different lie that is spelled and pronounced the same means, “to fabricate or mislead” someone through speech as in,
He lied to me. or He told a lie.
Lay means, “to put.” It is transitive and always takes an object as in,
I lay my baby down to sleep.
Here is a chart showing how these three confusing words are conjugated:
Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle Present Participle
(telling an lie lied have lied is lying
transitive lay laid have laid is laying
intransitive lie lay have lain is lying
In the following sentences, write in the correct form of these three confusing verbs. It will be
one of the verbs shown in the chart
1.Would you please ____________ the book on the desk and help me?
2. Don’t __________ to me; I promise not to be mad if only you will tell the truth.
3. Why don’t you ____________ down and take a nap before we go?
4. After ___________down the concrete, the workers began to dig another trench.
5. The mother told her son to ______________ still.
6. She has ___________in bed for four months now.
7. As I ____________ me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
8. Someone __________ the treasures there hundreds of years ago.
9. They ____________ out $4,000 for their daughter's wedding reception.
10. Mark Harris has written a book with an ambiguous title, “__________ in Bed.”
Now write one sentence of your own using the past tense of these three verbs:
Answers: 1. lay, 2. lie, 3. lie, 4. laying, 5. lie, 6. lain, 7. lay, 8. laid, 9. laid, 10. Lying
Possible sentences: 1. John lied to the teacher. 2. They laid the pavement this morning. 3. For a three-year-old, he
lay so quietly I was worried.