A few days ago, a discussion in an author’s’ online chat room raised a question, “Is it lay, lie, or what?”
Thus, it’s time to revisit my post on one of the more misused verbs in the English language: the verb ‘lay.’ In my own work, I often have to stop and make sure I am using it correctly. Do I mean to lay down or lie down? It boils down to a simple concept: is the object of the verb RECLINING or was it PLACED THERE?
“Lay” is a verb meaning to put or place something somewhere. It has a direct object. Its principal parts are “lay,” “laid,” “laid,” and “laying.”
What the words refer to is the action: If you set it (object) there, it is laying there. Lay it there. Lay it on the pillow.
If it is resting or reclining, it is lying there. Lie down. Lying down. Lie down, Sally. (Clapton had it wrong? Say it isn’t so!)
The internet is your friend. Quote from the wonderful website Get it Write: The verbs to lie and to lay have very different meanings. Simply put, to lie means “to rest,” “to assume or be situated in a horizontal position,” and to lay means “to put or place.” (Of course, a second verb to lie, means “to deceive,” “to pass off false information as if it were the truth,” but here we are focusing on the meaning of to lie that gives writers the most grief.)
This is where things get tense: present, past, and future.
A ring lay on the pillow.
But I needed to rest:
So what this all boils down to is:
But just to confuse things:
A living body lies down and rests as is needed.
A dead body is cleaned up and laid out by other people if said corpse was important to them. However, after having been laid out the corpse is “lying in state“ to allow mourners to pay their respects.
Attributions and Credits:
This post first appeared on Life in the Realm of Fantasy on July 15, 2015, as Lay, Lie, Laid, © 2015-2017 by Connie J. Jasperson, all rights reserved.
Quote from: To Lie, or To Lay, Get it Write online, http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/051402lielay.htm, accessed July 11, 2017