Lay vs. Lie
by Adam Huddleston
Ah yes, the bane of all writers. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but at some point most writers have come across this puzzle. Which form should I use? Does it matter? Actually, it does. Here is a quick refresher for those interested:
Use lay when the subject is setting something down. Ex: I lay the spider in the fireplace.
Use lie when the subject is the one lying. Ex: I lie down in the coffin.
In the past tense, “lay” becomes “laid” (Ex: I laid sod in my yard last week) and “lie” becomes “lay” (Ex: Mary lay in her new bed last night). Confused yet?
One more note, if helping verbs are involved (past participle form), “lie” becomes “lain”. Ex: The dragon had lain on her egg for eternity. However, “laid” is still the past participle form of “lay”. Ex: Susan had laid the gun down on the table.