Lie Vs Lay : Meaning and Difference


Lie Vs Lay 

Lie, lay, lied, laid, these words can create a lot of confusion. Using incorrect form of these words can cause a lot of misunderstanding.
In order to avoid any kind of misunderstanding, it’s very important to know the difference between lie and lay which is not so difficult once you know the meaning.

Meaning and difference

To Lay something =
to put something/somebody somewhere.
-to produce eggs


• Hens lay eggs.
• They are laying new electricity cables in our society.

to Lie somewhere  =
to be in a flat or a horizontal position somewhere
– to be or stay in a certain state or position

• Eggs lie in a basket.
• The cables lie in our society.
• The book lies on the table.
• He lies in the bed.

The same confusion continues with the present continuous form of these words.
Continuous form of
Lay is laying
Lie is lying.


He is lying on the beach would be correct.
He is laying on the beach would be incorrect.

In the same way
She is lying a new bed sheet. Incorrect
She is laying a new bed sheet. Correct

The confusing past tense

Here’s where things get a little complicated. The past tense of “lay” is “laid”, so no problem there, but the past tense of “lie” (in the sense of “being in a certain position”) is “lay”.

For some obscure reason, the past tense of “lie” is exactly the same word with which it gets confused in the present tense:

Did the hen lay an egg?
Yes, the hen laid an egg.

Did the egg lie in a basket?
Yes, the egg lay in a basket.

Understand the difference with more examples.


• Lay the book on the table. Present Tense
• He laid the book on the table. Past Tense
• He is laying the book on the table. Present Continuous 


Eggs lie in the basket. Present Tense
Eggs lay in the basket. Past Tense
Eggs are lying in the basket. Present continuous Tense

The word lie has another meaning also. It has unrelated meaning which is out of context for other two words we discussed above.
Lie= to say or write something that you know is not true

To make matters even worse, the past tense of “lie” is “lied”, not “lay”, when the meaning is “to tell a lie”:

correct She lied about her age.

wrong She lay about her age.

Let’s consider the previous example “lying on the beach” to understand more about this confusion.

He lay on the beach yesterday = He was lying on the beach; He stayed on the beach.

He lied on the beach yesterday = He didn’t say the truth when he was on the beach yesterday.

Lie (to be or stay in a certain state or position) becomes lay in past tense.

Lie (to say or write something that you know is not true) becomes lied in past tense.

I hope there won’t be any kind of confusion now.
Watch the video below for better understanding.?


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