Laying down a few rules about 'lie' vs. 'lay'

Laying down a few rules about 'lie' vs. 'lay'
Source: Reusableart.com

One of the many sloppy usages that drive me slowly crazy is the confusion some people have between the words "lie" and "lay." It may have started in a problem with accents or speed, but it's an easy problem to beat.

Here are some reminders of the rules:

You are lying in bed or on the couch, but someone comes in -- if you're lucky -- and lays a snack on the table beside you.

The dog in the picture is lying on the floor, but I laid that picture into the software in the proper place. The dog is not laying on the floor -- it's not a chicken.

Lie, lying and its other forms are for talking or writing about what's directly being done by a person or thing. (Yes, you lay something on the table and let it lie.)

Laying -- bonus point to me, I got the Y in there! -- and other forms of lay are for talking or writing about what happens to something.

You lie like a dog or a rug,

but you lay like a chicken.

 

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

 

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  • The most confusing thing (at least to a 5th grader) is when to use lain.

    Also, one doesn't lay on Twitter.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well put as always, thanks. I understand that most people have trouble with lain -- something had lain somewhere until it was picked up. Personally, my only trouble with it is leaving the G off the end.

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