Grammar Language

Difference Between Lay and Lie

Difference Between Lay and Lie

Summary: Difference Between Lay and Lie is that Lie and lay are confusing words where lie means to recline to rest on a surface and lay means to put down something. But Lay needs an object something being laid while lie cannot have an object.

Difference Between Lay and Lie

The verb lay means put and like that verb requires an object. If you are not sure of when to use lay try substituting the word with place or put.


We must lay our cards on the table. (We must put our cards on the table.)

She laid the octopus in the pot. (She placed the octopus in the pot.)


The word lie means be reclined or be located and does not take an object. The past of the verb lie is lay, just as with the present form of the verb lay.


If you are tired you should lie down and relax.

Every day, I lie on my sofa after lunch.

Abandoned flying saucers were lying in the desert.

Yesterday, the cat lay in the sun, charging itself for another busy night.

The papers have lain on the desk for several days.

With closely related meanings and overlapping forms, the verbs lay and lie are probably the two most frequently confused words in English. Typically, people will use lay and laying when they need lie and lying. Adding to the confusion is the second meaning of the lie, namely, saying something that isn’t true. In this meaning lie is a regular verb (lie, lied).

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