Module 15, Troublesome Words 1, Lesson 2:

Lie, Lying, Lay, Lain vs. Lay, Laying, Laid, Laid


As you learned in the last lesson, "lie" means to be at rest, or to recline in a horizontal position. Its forms are: lie (present), lying (present/past progressive), lay (past), lain (participle). Examples: 1) Lie down. 2) Lying in the sun dries the skin. 3) The parcels lay on the table. 4) We have lain in the sun for thirty minutes.

Unlike "lie," "lay" is a transitive verb, so it always takes an object. Remember that "lie" never takes an object because it is intransitive. The forms of "lay" are lay, laying, laid, laid. Examples: 1) Lay the bricks here. 2) He was laying the bricks in rows. 3) Yesterday he laid the bricks ten high. 4) He has laid all the bricks in the wall.

Note that the present tense of "lay" is the same as the past tense of "lie."

Practice What You've Learned

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Click the term that correctly completes each sentence.
(Lie) (Lay) those books on the shelf.
Are the hens (lying) (laying) eggs?
The hens (lay) (laid) six eggs yesterday.
The bricks were (lain) (laid) in staggered rows.
When I returned home, I laid aside my work shoes and (lay) (laid) down for a nap.
These seeds will (lie) (lay) dormant for three years.
The city of Los Angeles (lies) (lays) south of Santa Barbara.
The female salmon will (lie) (lay) thousands of eggs in a season.
(Lying) (Laying) on the rocks in the sun were two lizards.
The rock had (laid) (lain) there all day in the sun soaking up heat until it was too hot to touch.