Lie versus Lay

One of the most commonly misused pair of verbs in the US: lie and lay. Although it's correct to say, "I'm going to go out and lie in the sun for an hour," even professionals and experts very often say, "I'm going to go out and lay in the sun," which is incorrect.

To lie is to recline; the subject is not acting on a direct object.

To lay is what the subject does to something else; the subject acts upon an object. But, "now I lay me down to sleep," is correct, because you as the subject are acting upon yourself as the object.

The "grammarly" blog ( says to remember them like this:
Lie means to recLIne; lay means to pLAce.
A simple and effective tool!

Lie (present) -- lay (past) -- lain (past participle)
Lay (present -- laid (past) -- laid (past participle)

"Lay" being the past tense of "lie" as well as its own present tense verb just adds to the confusion.

Today I lie down. Yesterday I lay down. As a child, I had lain here to nap in the sun on many an afternoon.

I now lay the book on the shelf. Yesterday I laid the cookbook on the table. Prior to buying the bookshelf, I had laid all my books on the table.

Watch the chicken lay an egg! Yesterday two hens laid eggs. It's spring now, but no hens had laid eggs during the winter.

Got it!?

Good! (Whew - but that was exhausting! Go lie down and take a well-deserved rest!)

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