Monday, August 15, 2016
Lie vs lay – Understanding the problem
Selecting what is correct between lie and lay is a challenge even for experienced writers. These irregular verbs are difficult to understand if we don’t know their respective definitions. Second, even if we speak them, there is a tiny bit of difference on their pronunciations so it is highly likely to interchange them.
Since we do not know how to use them properly, the tendency is that we become used to hearing ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ in their incorrect forms. As such, even when we proofread our write-ups, we tend to disregard the mistakes because they sound right even if not. In this grammar lesson, we are going to discuss how ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ should be used in a sentence.
‘Lie’ is a verb that means ‘to recline or rest.’ It functions as an intransitive verb, which means that it can be used in a sentence even if not followed by a direct object. For example: “The bed of Ronald often smells like cat because Sparky, his Siamese, lies there every night.” As we can see, there is no direct object following the word ‘lie,’ and if we are going to ask what is Sparky doing in the bed, we can answer Sparky is ‘resting.’
Here are other examples: “After hours of playing in the mud, my dog Benny gets tired, lies on the floor and takes a nap.” “The bill for dinner lies on the table so you can check the amount.” “If you are already sleepy, you can lie down on the bed first.”
‘Lay’ is also a verb and it means ‘to put or place someone or something down.’ Unlike ‘lie,’ which is an intransitive verb, ‘lay’ is a transitive verb. This means that it needs a direct object when used in a sentence. The direct object will function as the primary receiver of action.
Here are some examples: “The bird lays eggs on the nest.” “Before watching his favorite TV series, John laid his sleepy son on the bed (take note that laid is the past tense of lay).” “The house maid lays the carpet on the floor.”
Simple tip to remember
The difference between the two is that ‘lie’ sounds like ‘recline’ which is its meaning. On the other hand, ‘lay’ sounds like ‘place’ which also means ‘to place something or someone down.’
Sometimes, the misuse of the words take place in its past tense form. The past tense of ‘lie’ is also ‘lay,’ while the past tense of ‘lay’ is ‘laid.’ So that we will not confuse the two past forms, we must remember that ‘laid’ is used when there is a direct object. In other words, ‘laiD’ has a ‘D’ which stands for ‘direct object.’