By | June 2, 2022
Lay vs Lie: Difference between Lay and Lie

Lay vs Lie: Are you unsure of when to use the verbs lay and lie? You’re not alone – they are two of the most commonly confused words in English. While their meanings are similar, there is a crucial difference between them. Keep reading to find out when to use each one.

What is the Difference between Lay and Lie?

We all know that lying down is a comfortable position to rest in, but did you know that there are actually two different ways to say it? In English, we can use the verbs “lay” and “lie” to both mean “to recline.” However, there is a big difference between these two words – lay is transitive and lie is intransitive. This means that lay takes an object, while lie does not.

For example, you could say “I am going to lay the blanket on the bed,” but you would never say “I am going to lie the blanket on the bed.” The correct way to use lie in this sentence would be “I am going to lie down on the bed.”

When deciding which verb to use, it is important to keep in mind whether or not there is an object involved. If there is an object, you will need to use lay. If there is no object, you can use either lay or lie. Just remember that lie will always be followed by down (or another preposition such as up, on, or off).

How to Use Lay

When to Use Lay

Lay is a transitive verb, which means it requires an object. You lay something down. It’s the same whether you’re talking about laying a book on the table or your friend laying down some cash for lunch. Because lay is a regular verb, its past tense is laid and its past participle is also laid.

Here are some example sentences of lay in action:

  • He laid the book on the table.
  • The cat has been lying in the sun all day.
  • She will be lying down for a nap soon.
  • They have been laying tile all day.
  • I am going to go lie down for a bit.

Remember, because lay is transitive, it must have an object. You can’t just say “He lays,” or “She will lie.”

How to Use Lie

When you lie, you recline. It’s as simple as that. If you want to lie down on the ground, you first put something down to make it more comfortable, like a blanket or a pillow. Then you lower your body until you are resting flat on your back. You can also lie on your stomach or on your side.

Lying down is not the only way to use lie, however. You can also use it as a intransitive verb meaning to recline in a chair or other piece of furniture. For example, you might say “I’m going to lie down for a while” or “He was lying in bed when I called him this morning.” When used in this way, lie does not require an object.

You can also use lie to mean something that isn’t true. For example, if someone asks you “Did you eat the last cookie?” and you know that you did, you would be lying if you said “No, I didn’t.”

Difference between Stationary and Stationery (

When to Use Lay vs Lie

Knowing when to use lay vs lie can be confusing for many people. The main difference between the two words is that lay requires an object, whereas lie does not. In other words, you can “lie down” without an object, but you can’t “lay down” without one.

Here are some examples of when to use each word:

  • I am going to lie down on the bed. (No object required)
  • I am going to lay the book on the table. (Object required)

The past tense of lie is lay, but the past tense of lay is laid. This can add to the confusion, but just remember that the word lay always requires an object.

Here are some examples of when to use each word in the past tense:

  • Yesterday, I lay down on the bed. (No object required)
  • Yesterday, I laid the book on the table. (Object required)

Each vs Every: Difference between Each and Every (

Examples of Lay and Lie

When you lay something down, you put it in a horizontal position. For example, you can lay a book on a table or lay a blanket over a person. When you lie something down, you put it in a vertical position. For example, you can lie a pencil on its side or lie a baby down in a crib.

Here are some more examples of lay and lie:

Yesterday, I laid the baby down for a nap.

I am going to lie down on the couch and watch TV.

Please don’t lie your head on the table.

Can you please stop lying around and help me with this project?

Laying vs Lying: What’s the Difference? – Writing Explained


All in all, lie and lay are two commonly confused words in the English language. The main difference between the two terms is that lie means to recline whereas lay means to place something down. With that being said, if you remember this one key difference, it will be much easier for you to choose the correct word when writing.