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Lay vs. Lie: What’s the Difference between Lie vs. Lay?


The difference between lay vs. lie is often difficult to explain, even for native speakers of English. Many English speakers instinctively know when to use each one but putting the rules into words can really be a challenge.

Lay vs. Lie

Both lay and lie are verbs. The big difference between them comes from focus and action. This may be a difficult concept to grasp at first, but using a few examples can help clear things up. Let’s take a closer look.

When to Use Lay

When using “lay,” an action is being performed on something (an object). The thing that the action is performed on is the direct object. Here are some examples:

  • laid the book on the table.
  • Laying concrete is hard work.
  • The woman lays her jacket on the table every day.

When to Use Lie

When using “lie,” there is no object that an action is being performed on. Rather, there is something that performs the action but there isn’t something being acted upon. That is to say that there is an indirect object. Take a look at some examples of lie:

  • When I entered the room, I saw the phone lying on the table.
  • After coming home, his friend lied down and went to sleep.
  • Cats are lazy. They just lie around all day.

Note for the Difference between Lay vs. Lie

In everyday conversation, many people may use these words interchangeably. After committing these rules to memory and practicing them many times, the difference should be easier to understand.

One more thing to look out for is that “lie” has another meaning which means to be dishonest or not tell the truth. We have to rely on context by examining the words around “lie” in order to understand its intended meaning.

Lay vs. Lie Examples

  • lay on my back and looked up at the stars.
  • His clothes lay in a heap on the floor.
  • She laid flowers on the grave.
  • She laid the picture face down on the table.
  • He laid his hand on my shoulder.
  • I’d like to lie down for a while.
  • You can enjoy all the water sports, or simply lie on the beach.
  • They love to lie on the beach enjoying the sunshine.
  • Don’t lie to her. She’s bound to find out about it.

Lie vs. Lay: What’s the Difference? | Image

Lay vs. Lie – When Do You Use Lay or Lie?

Lay vs. Lie

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