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Lay and Lie

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Points: 1090
Reviews: 5
Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:33 pm
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Joy Sauce says...

When people communicate through speaking, they tend to bend some grammar rules. These changes will sneak their way into writing. Lay and lie, I feel, are victims of this because I see the incorrect usage all the time.

Say someone wants to teach their dog a new trick. Does that person tell his/her pet 'Lay down,' or, 'Lie down'? If you think it's the first one, well, you are wrong. (But does your dog care about that? Probably not…. Still, I would want my dog to speak the correct way if he could….) 
The words lay and lie are often confused, whose meanings are similar, but at the same time, are completely different.

- To place. Transitive verb. 
As you should understand by the definition, this word does not have to do with that trick someone was trying to teach their dog before, except in one case. I'll get to that later. The tenses of lay are lay(s) and laid. 

Example: She lays the book on the counter.  

- To rest in a horizontal position. Intransitive verb.
Now you know the meaning of both verbs. However, it gets a little tricky when you get into the past tense of this lie, which is lay, even though it doesn't have anything to do with the first one. (The other tense of lie is have/has lain.)

Example: They lie quietly on the ground, spying on their neighbours behind the bushes. 

Notice how the past tense could sound like the present. (They lay quietly on the ground, spying on their neighbours behind the bushes.)

- To give fallacy or a false statement. Intransitive verb. 
I just added this so you don't confuse the irregular forms of the previous lie with the forms of this one. I'm sure everyone understands this lie, so I'll just simply state that the forms of this are: lie(s), be lying, lied, had/has/have lied and will/shall lie.

Joy Sauce ~

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
— Albert Einstein