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Lay vs. Lie

In this article you will learn the differences between Lay and Lie.

4:22 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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The words lay and lie are one the most confusing pair of words, which are often mistaken for each other. The words have different spellings, meanings and pronunciations but their very close spellings lead to the prodigious misunderstanding where one is irrevocably mistaken for the other. Consider the following sentence:

She told a lie to her mother as she lay down on the rug.

Notice the difference here. Can you interpret the right meaning of lie and lay in the above sentence?

Lay as verb:

Lay is mostly used as a verb in English language where it means to put something down very carefully and gently.

The girl laid the baby in her cot.

It is also used to imply the prevention of something from rising off the ground. The light shower of rain laid down the dust. When you put something down in a special position for its use, the thing is said to be laid down. I would rather have my carpet laid down by some professionals. The setting of cutlery and crockery on the table in the preparation for a meal is also known as laying. His wife laid the table for two on their anniversary. The action of covering a surface with anything is referred to as laying it. The floor was laid with mattresses. When someone prepares a trap for another person they are said to be laying a trap on them. Working out on an idea which is ready to be presented is also called laying upon it. I would like a few more hours to lay my plans. The presentation of a situation or recommendations in front of a person so he/she may act upon them is also considered laying. He laid his proposal in front of the parliament. To locate an episode in a play, novel, etc. in a particular place is known as laying it. The area where the scene was laid is on fire. Staking a particular amount of money in a bet is called laying.

She would never have laid the money on that horse.

When a female bird, insect, amphibian etc. produce an egg (offspring) from her body during the process of reproductions, she is laying the egg. The hen laid 7 eggs out of which only 1 chick survived. The following of a specified course is also called laying. I’m going to lay a course for Ibiza harbor. The act of trimming back the hedges, cutting, bending, and interweaving the branches is also termed as laying.


She has a habit of laying the branches every Saturday.


Lay as noun:


Lay is also used as a noun to define the general appearance of an area of a land. The lay of the surrounding countryside is mesmerizing. The position or the direction in which a particular thing lies is also termed as its lay. Roll the carpet against the lay of the nap. The twists and tangles in rope strands is also its lay. The laying of eggs or the period during which eggs are laid is termed as lay.

Lay vs. Lie


The onset of lay is the dropping of duck’s abdomen.

Lie as verb:

To be in or assume a horizontal or resting position on a supporting surface. The dead body was lying face down on the ground. When a thing rest flat on a surface it lies that way. The book lay open on the podium. Telling a falsehood or something against the facts willingly is also called lying. The janitor lied about the bath robes being stolen. The burial place of a dead person is the place where he lies.

Her grandmother lies in a crypt.

When a person or thing remains or is kept in a specified state, it is termed as lie. The abbey lies in the ruins. When an abstract object or this resides or is found, lie is used to describe it. The solution lies in going through all the files again. One British meaning of lie is the particular position of a team in a competition. The Spencers are lying in 4th place. The place, position or direction of a place is also lie. Kexby lies about five miles due east of York. The scene’s extension from an observer’s point of view. All the Paris lies in front of you from the top of Eifel Tower. The admissibility of sustainability of an action, charge or claim is termed as lying.

An action for restitution would lie for money paid in breach of the law


Mr Beveridge believes the bomb had lain undiscovered for decades. [Scotland Courier]

On Tuesday afternoon, crews had laid what appeared to be one layer of asphalt on one lane. [Newnan Times-Herald]

Beyond it lay an unshoveled yard where the snow was dotted with candles and two smoky fires. [NY Times]

Lay vs. lie

Lay and lie both have numerous meanings but the confusion most often arises where lay means to put down and lie means to recline. The distinction is very simple to remember, lay needs an object which is laid down but lie cannot have an object and always uses a person who lies down.

Do you lay down a book or lie it down?

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