“Lay” vs “Lie” – Part 2

I explained the difference between the verbs “Lay” and “Lie” in this post “Lay” vs “Lie” – Part 1.

Now let’s move into the 2nd part of this topic. The reason “Lay” and “Lie” are confusing is their present tense, past tense, past participle and present participle forms.

To lay = to place something or someone down

  • Present tense:  lay (s)
  • Past tense: laid
  • Past Participle: laid
  • Present Participle: laying

To lie = to rest or recline

  • Present tense: lie (s)
  • Past tense: lay*
  • Past Participle: lain
  • Present Participle: lying

To lie = to tell an untruth

  • Present tense: lie (s)
  • Past tense: lied
  • Past Participle: lied
  • Present Participle: lying

* Note: “Lay” (past tense of the verb “Lie“) = “Lay” (present tense of the verb “Lay“). But don’t forget they have different meanings.

The better way to explain this is showing some examples:

Lay = place or put (someone or something) down

  • Present tense: I can’t lay bricks, I don’t know how to do it.
  • Past simple tense: Before taking a shower, I laid my dress on the bed.
  • Past participle: I have laid the table for dinner.

* The verb “Lay” must have a direct object. Bricks, my dress, the table are direct objects.

Lie* = rest or recline

  • Present tense: The John’s garage always smells like dog because his hound lies there every day.
  • Past simple tense: Yesterday, Susan lay down on the couch after lunch.
  • Past participle: Jane has lain on the sofa for days.

Note: The past tense of “Lie” is “Lay“.

Lie* = tell an untruth

  • Present tense: My roommate lies all the time.
  • Past simple tense: He lied to his father about the exam.
  • Present continuous tense: I don’t believe in you, I know you’re lying to me again.
  • Past perfect tense: She knew that her boyfriend had lied to her.

* The verbs “Lie = rest or recline” and “Lie = tell an untruth” can’t have a direct object.

Memorize these sentences:

  1. Now I lay me down to sleep.
  2. Now I lie down to sleep.
  • The 1st sentence there is object (me), so the verb is “to lay = to place“.
  • The 2nd sentence there is no object, so the verb is “to lie = to rest“.


  • Eg: I lay my bag on the table. When I first placed it on the table, it laid down. But after that it is lying (resting) there, not laying there.
  • Something laying on the ground, it must be doing something else, such as “The birds are laying eggs”; something lying on the ground, it is just resting there;


If you want to read the first part of the topic “Lay” vs “Lie“, click here.

I found a very interesting website that explains about “Lay” vs “Lie“. See more at: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/03/lie-or-lay

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