Should You Use Lie or Lay in that Sentence?
freeze when it comes time to write lie or lay, never sure which is right? If so, you're not alone. Most of us
have stopped mid-sentence, unsure of the correct verb, grumbled about the language, and then reached for the dictionary.
lay for lie when speaking, and your audience will understand the meaning.
The error, if noticed, is soon forgotten. As a writer, however, you can't
afford mistakes in your manuscript. While grammatical errors are permissible
in dialogue for the sake of realism, you would not want your highly educated character to make one, and your narrative paragraphs
should be error free.
some examples to help clear up the confusion:
Lay means to put something down.
(or I am laying) the book on the table.
I laid two books on the table.
been laying there a long time.
Lie means to recline or rest.
on the sofa (I am lying there.)
I lay there all day.
lain on that old sofa many times.
look well. Perhaps you should lie down.
lay as it applies to chickens
eggs. (My hens are laying.)
they will lay again tomorrow.
laid eggs all summer.
lie as it pertains to liars
all the time. You can’t believe a thing she says.
to me yesterday.
her lying to my brother last week.
been lying since the day she learned to speak.
word of warning: Never depend on your word processor to catch errors with these verbs. According to grammar check, "My hens
are lying" is proper, but no one has ever been lied to by a chicken.