It’s not a pet peeve this week, just a tricky one that often gets me thinking twice, too. And lately I’ve been seeing it in all kinds of trad pubbed books as well as indie.
The dreaded Lie vs. Lay
WHICH ONE DO YOU USE AND WHEN? It’s the frequent cry I hear in my dreams as some writer somewhere in the world stumbles upon this dilemma and proceeds to tear out their hair. WHY ARE THESE WORDS SO CLOSE BUT NOT THE SAME?
I know, my friend, I know.
So I’m going to attempt to help clear things up by sharing the tip that finally made it click in my own head. If you hear the same click in yours, huzzah! If not, it’s all right. Your time will come.
Lie is more of an active verb; lay is passive.
You lie down on the bed, but you lay the socks down on the dresser.
I lie in the grass, but I lay the blanket on the sand.
BUT WHAT ABOUT IN THE PAST TENSE???? you might scream in frustration.
A good question, because this is where grammar really hates us.
You lay down on the bed, but you laid the socks down on the dresser.
I lay in the grass, but I laid the blanket on the sand.
WHAT ABOUT THE PAST PARTICIPLE???
All right, all right, this one is a will be easier if you’ve gotten the past tense down:
You have lain down on the bed, but you have laid the socks down on the dresser
I have lain in the grass, but I have laid the blanket on the sand
Lie Lay Lain
Lay Laid Laid
If you want or need more tricks to try to make it stick, the Grammar Girl has got you covered!
Did you hear the click? Was this post helpful? Let me know in the comments!