Lay or Lie?


By Annette Rey

Let’s not waste a lot of time and create confusion on this one.

The difference between lay and lie is simple.

Lay and lie are verbs, an action word in a sentence.

Lay = to set down, to put action on something else

Lie = to be or to stay at rest, requiring no further action


Lay requires an object. –

Betty, lay the baby here. (baby is the object)

I laid the book down. (laid is the past tense of lay, book is the object)


Lie does not require an object. –

The cat is lying on the windowsill.

He lies in peace.



Grammar books and teachers can make these distinctions so confusing. There is a place for those details and they are important to know. But, for quick understanding, I like to cut through those rules where I can, and simply present basic meaning and usage of words.

I hope this approach helps you effortlessly grasp the difference between lay and lie.

Here’s to good writing!





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