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 Post subject: Lie vs. Lay
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:52 am 
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The Scribe of Athero
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:20 pm
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And the confusion doesn't end there. I know nearly all of this, as a good editor should, but even I wasn't 100% sure of the PAST PARTICIPLE of each. Which is quite different, each from the other. And doubly confusing. Read on, my children, and be amazed!

In Writers Digest Online 2-23-10 edition, Brian A. Klems wrote:
QUESTIONS AND QUANDARIES
by Brian A. Klems

Lay vs. Lie (vs. Laid)

Q: Lay, lie, laid—when do you use each?
—Annemarie Valian

A: Don’t forget about “lain,” my friend! All these verbs have two things in common: They begin with the letter “L” and confuse the bejeezus out of many people.

Let’s give this a shot. Lay and lie are both present-tense verbs, but they don’t mean quite the same thing. Lay means to put or set something down, so if the subject is acting on an object, it’s “lay.” For example, I lay down the book. You, the subject, set down the book, the object.

Lie, on the other hand, is defined as, “to be, to stay or to assume rest in a horizontal position,” so the subject is the one doing the lying—I lie down to sleep or When I pick up a copy of my favorite magazine, Writer’s Digest, I lie down to take in all its great information. In both these cases, you, the subject, are setting yourself down. Are you with me so far?

In the past tense, “lay” becomes “laid” (I laid down the law and told her it was inappropriate for her to pick her nose) and “lie” becomes “lay” (She lay down for a nap that afternoon and picked her nose anyway). Yes, “lay” is also the past tense of “lie.” And the confusion doesn’t end there.

To throw you for another loop, “laid” is also the past participle form of “lay.” So, when helping verbs are involved, “lay” becomes “laid” and “lie” becomes “lain.” Grandma had laid the chicken in the oven earlier this morning. The chicken had lain there all day until it was cooked all the way through and ready for us to eat.

Remember: Lay and laid both mean to set something down, while lie, lay and lain all mean the subject is setting itself down.

And now, I lay this question to rest.


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Infinitive Definition Present Past Past Participle Present Participle

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to lay to put or place lay(s) laid laid laying
something down

to lie to rest or recline lie(s) lay lain lying

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