LIE or LAY? All Tenses (Easy to remember tips, PDF, Video)

The English verbs LIE and LAY are easily confused. This is true for native and non-native speakers alike! Here is the main reason why -The past tense of “lie” is “lay.” Confusing right? Don’t worry, this blog post will help you understand the conjugations and meanings of the verbs LIE and LAY. (Plus helpful tips for remembering the difference.)

Lie means – to be in a horizontal position (Intransitive)
The past tense of LIE is LAY. – “I LAY down for a quick nap after lunch.”
Lay means – to put or place something down (Transitive)
The past tense of LAY is LAID. – “Daniel carefully LAID the books on his desk.”

This post has everything you need to master this verb grammar. Helpful examples, images, video, and free Quiz PDF Download. Keep reading.

Lie Vs Lay

Lie and Lay - verb definitions and examples

The verbs “lie” and “lay” are often confused because they are related in meaning and form. “Lie” means “to recline” or “to be in a horizontal position,” while “lay” means “to put or place something down.

It can be helpful to remember that “lie” is an intransitive verb. It does not have an object. 

  • “I lie down.” (no object)

“Lay” is a transitive verb. It will always have an object. 

  • “I lay the book on the table.” (the book is the object)
The past tense of lie is lay (Intransitive verb – it does not have an object)
“I LAY down for a quick nap after lunch.”
The verb LAY is followed by the adverb down, not a direct object. 
The past tense of lay is laid (Transitive verb – it is followed by a direct object)
Daniel carefully LAID the books on his desk.
The verb LAID is followed by the direct object the books

You can do a deeper dive end to this verb grammar at my post here >> Transitive and Intransitive Verbs (with PDF and Video)

Lie and Lay past tense. LAY and LAID

Lie Vs Lay – Verb Conjugation (with examples)

The verb LIE

The verb LIE means to be or put yourself in a flat position so that you are not standing or sitting

lie1_1 verb -OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com

Below are the various conjugations of this verb with example sentences.

Infinitive TO LIE

  • I’m so tired, I just need to lie down and close my eyes for 15 minutes. 

Present Simple LIE

  • I lie down for a nap every afternoon.

Present Simple (Third Person Singular) LIES

  • She lies on the couch and watches TV.

Past Tense LAY

(“Lie” is an irregular verb. Its past tense and past participle do not end in _ED.)

  • I lay down for a nap yesterday.
  • Andrea was so tired, she lay on the couch and fell asleep in 30 seconds.

Past Participle LAIN

  • The goats on our farm love the shady side of the hill. They have lain there every afternoon this summer. (present perfect tense)

Continuous LYING

  • When I got to Steven’s house he was lying on the couch reading a book. 
Actually, he was lying on the couch asleep!

The verb LAY

LAY means to put somebody/something in a particular position, especially when it is done gently or carefully
*Remember that LAY is a transitive verb so it will always be followed by a direct object.

lay_1 verb – OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com 

Infinitive TO LAY

  • Let’s get to the park before it becomes too crowded. I want to lay our picnic blanket under the big tree. 

Present Simple LAY

  • I lay the book on the table.

Present Simple (Third Person Singular) LAYS

  • She lays the baby in the crib.

Past Tense LAID

  • I laid my books on the table.
  • She gently laid the baby in the crib.

Past Participle LAID

  • She has laid the baby down for a nap. (present perfect tense)
  • They had laid all the cards on the table before the meeting began. (past perfect tense)
  • He had laid his book on the shelf before he left the room. (past perfect tense)

Continuous LAYING

  • A gardener was laying new grass in the park this morning. He was replacing a patch of yellow grass under the tree.

The Verb “lie” (Different Meaning)

Lie can also mean to say or write something that you know is not true

lie2_1 verb – OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com

Lie to say or write something that you know is not true - I lied about my age on my resume.

This version of lie is a regular verb so the conjugation is different than our first version. This means that the past tense and the past participle are both lied.
Please look at the conjugation examples below. 

Infinitive TO LIE

  • I didn’t want to lie but I felt I had no choice. 

Present Simple LIE

  • I lie about my age sometimes.

Present Simple (Third Person Singular) LIES

  • She lies to her parents about where she’s going.

Past Tense LIED

  • I lied about my age on my resume.

Past Participle LIED

  • She has lied to her parents many times. (present perfect tense)

Continuous LYING

  • I never believe Malcolm, he’s always lying about something. 

The Verb “lay” (Different Meaning)

Lay can also mean to produce eggs (for animals)
– This version of LAY is also Transitive. It has the same conjugation as our first version. 

Infinitive TO LAY

  • It’s common for laying hens to lay one egg every day. 

Present Simple LAY

  • My best chicken will sometimes lay 2 eggs in a day!

Did you know? Per person, Japan consumes the most eggs every year. The average person in Japan eats about 320 eggs per year. That is almost one egg per day. SOURCE

Present Simple (Third Person Singular) LAYS

  • She lays eggs for us to eat.

(“Lay” is an irregular verb. Its past tense and past participle do not end in _ED.)

Past Tense LAID

  • The eagle laid its eggs and then flew off in search of food.

Past Participle LAIN

  • I collected some new-lain eggs for our breakfast.

Continuous LAYING

  • It’s been very hot this summer. The hens are not laying well.

A hen is a female chicken and a male is a rooster. Rooster is one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. You can find some common Rooster Idioms here >> Idioms with Rooster (Definitions, REAL Examples, and Video)

FAQ Frequently Asked Question

What is the Past Tense of Lying?

What is the Past Tense of Lying?

Lying is the continuous tense of the verb LIE. The past continuous tense is was/were lying.

Remember LIE is an intransitive verb while LAY is a transitive verb. Let’s review our example sentences from above. 

  • When I got to Steven’s house he was lying on the couch watching TV.

    Lying is the continuous tense of the verb LIE. It is an intransitive verb that is not followed by a direct object. Intransitive verbs are sometimes followed by prepositions. In this sentence, was lying is followed by the position on

Was lying is the past continuous tense of the verb LIE. 

The past tense of Laying

Any verb conjugation of LAY will be followed by a direct object. 

  • A gardener was laying new grass in the park this morning. He was replacing a patch of yellow grass under the tree.

    Laying is the continuous past tense of the verb LAY. A transitive verb will be followed by the direct object. The direct object in this sentence is new grass

Was laying is the past continuous tense of the verb LAY. 

Was laying is the past continuous tense of the verb LAY. 

Some more examples.

  • My friends and I were lying on the beach when a huge wave came in suddenly and got us wet. 
  • As the unsuspecting Antelope came close, the lion was lying in wait. 
  • The dog was lying in the shade to escape the heat.
  • Several workmen were laying the foundation for the new building.
  • The painter was laying down a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
  • My chickens were laying eggs in the hen house.

Lie/Lay Down Phrasal Verbs

Lie down” is a phrasal verb that means to assume a horizontal position, usually in bed or on a surface such as a couch.

It is made with the verb “lie” and the adverb “down.” The adverb “down” describes how the action of “lying” is performed.

Here are some example sentences using “lie down” –

  • I’m feeling really tired, so I think I’ll lie down for a while.
  • The doctor told the patient to lie down on the examination table.
  • After the long hike, we all lay down on the grass and enjoyed the sunset. (Past tense)
  • My dog always lies down on its bed as soon as we get home after a walk.

Lay down” is a phrasal verb that means to put something in a horizontal position or to place something on a surface. It can also refer to causing someone or something to be in this position.

Here are some example sentences using “lay down” –

*NOTE – LAY DOWN is commonly used as a separable phrasal verb. This means we can put the object in between the verb lay and the adverb down.

  • Can you lay the blanket down on the grass for me?
  • She carefully laid the newborn baby down in the crib.
  • He laid his guitar down on the stand and sat down on the couch.
  • I need to lay these papers down on the table so I can sort through them.
  • The teacher told the students to lay their pens down and listen to her.
Everyone lay your pens down and listen to me.

Lie Vs. Lay Quiz PDF Download

This Quiz PDF has 10 LIE or LAY questions to test your English. Great for self-study or class work offline.

More helpful Confusing English posts are waiting for you below…

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