Challenging Verbs: Lie/Lay

May 21, 2021

Lie: to lie (yourself) down.

I lie down on my bed when I am tired.

Lay: to lay something else down.

I lay down my backpack in the hallway when I get home.

PastPast Participle
Lie (self)lielyinglaylain
Lay (object)laylayinglaidlaid

Notice that the transitive verb (the one you do to an object) is more regular than the intransitive verb (the one you do to yourself). Lay adds -ing and -ed (with a spelling change). Lie adds -ing, but changes to lay and lain.

I lie down on my bed when I am tired.
I am lying down on my bed right now.
I lay down on my bed yesterday.
In the past I have lain down on my bed.

I lay my backpack down in the hall.
I am laying my backpack down.
Yesterday I laid my backpack down.
In the past I have laid my back pack down.