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Lay and lie are two of the hardest verbs to master. When do you use one versus the other? Are they the same in the past tense? Do they mean the same thing? This article from will teach you everything you need to know about using lay and lie, and why they are so perplexing!

Lay Versus Lie
Of all the tricky intricacies of the English language, none trip me up more than lay and lie. These are frequently used, and misused, verbs, and can be hard to get a handle on. Unfortunately, there is no easy trick to remember when to apply which verb--all you can do is memorize and practice. In this article, the word lie will only mean to be in or assume a resting position; lie will not mean to say something untruthful. So let me lay it on you!

Present Tense
These verbs are easiest to master in the present tense, but you do need to understand the concept of direct objects. Lay requires a direct object, while lie does not. What is a direct object? A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb or shows the result of the action. So, you would lay an outfit out for the morning because the outfit is the direct object. The outfit cannot do the work, you need to do something to it. However, you would lie down in your bed, as you are not a direct object. You are the one doing the action, so lie and not lay is used. Let's say you were attending a yoga class. If your instructor used correct grammar, he would ask you to lay out your yoga mat, but to lie in savasana. In this case, your yoga mat is the direct object, requiring you to do something to it. If it's not sentient, it likely requires you to use lay.

Past Tense
The past tense is where these verbs get very tricky. Extremely confusingly, the past tense of lie is lay. So using our examples from earlier, when you went to sleep last night, you lay down in bed. And at yoga class last week, you lay in savasana. The past tense of lay, however, is laid. So to move faster in the morning, you laid out an outfit last night. And at yoga class, you laid out your mat. In the past tense, lie is lay and lay is laid. (more on )

Past Participle
The grammatical nightmare continues with these verbs in the past participle. The past participle, also known as the passive or perfect participle, indicates that something started in the past, but continues now. The past participle form of lie is lain. So if you just cannot get out of bed in the morning, you have lain in bed since last night. And if your tired body cannot move after a challenging yoga class, you have lain in savasana well past the end of the class. One silver lining to this dark, linguistic cloud, is that the past participle of lay is the same as the past tense of lay: laid. So if you are very organized, you have laid out your outfits every morning for the past year. Maybe every time you have attended to yoga class, you have laid out your mat in the center of the room. In the past participle, lie is lain and lay is laid.

A Review
There really is no way to master these verbs other than to practice using them correctly. The most important thing to remember is that lay and laid always require a direct object. Lie, which does not require a direct object, is the present tense, lay is the past tense, and lain is the past participle. Just keep practicing and you will become a grammar expert like authors from best essay writer service in no time!


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