What the Heck is Lain?


What is the difference between “lay” and “lie,” and what are their forms?

“Lie” indicates a state of reclining on a horizontal plane, according to The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. It does not take a direct object. The past tense is “lay.” 

“Lay” takes a direct object. 

The forms are: lie; lay; lain; lying and lay; laid; laid and laying.

This is a bit confusing, so here are some examples to better illustrate this point.

AP Style uses the following sentences for present and future tenses.

I will lay the book on the table. 
The prosecutor tried to lay the blame on him.

He lies on the beach all day.
I will lie down.

But, in the past tense, it is:

I laid the book on the table.
He lay on the beach all day.
He has lain on the beach all day. 
I lay down.

With the present participle:

I am laying the book on the table. 
He is lying on the beach.
I am lying down.

Coming Friday...

Flash Fiction Fridays has great piece by Sharon Cupp Pennington on tap for this week as Family Gatherings month continues.


Lee said…
Thanks for the clarification on this. Lie and lay carry the most askew usages in the English language and I'm forever having to refresh my memory on them.
Me, too. I have them written on a small piece of paper, which I keep in my desk for quick reference.

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