Lie vs. Lay — Which one?

This thing saves my life on a regular basis:

The annoying part, of course, is that LAY appears in both columns. Sigh.

The GOOD part, however, is that as long as you have this little chart, a quick glance will let you know which word to use. But that’s only if you know the difference!

So, here it is:

PRESENT TENSE

Lay — This is when you are setting an object down, like laying a picnic blanket on the ground or when a chicken lays an egg. (This is when two objects are involved: the person/thing performing an action (like the chicken), and the person/thing that is being acted upon (the egg).

Lie — This is when you yourself go down, like when you lie on your bed, or the food lies on the table. (Only one object exists: the person/thing lying down.)

Use both — You lie on the grass because you forgot to lay down the blanket.

PAST TENSE

Lay — This is when you set an object down, like: you laid a picnic blanket on the ground or when a chicken laid an egg. (This is when two objects are involved: the person/thing that performed an action (like the chicken), and the person/thing that was acted upon (the egg).

Lie — This is when you yourself went down, like when you lay on your bed, or the food lay on the table. (Only one object exists: the person/thing who/that laid down.)

THE FINAL TEST

Is it just one object/person/thing involved?  = LIE

Or is one object/person/thing acting on another object/person/thing? = LAY

Once you determine whether you’re dealing with “lie” or “lay,” you can use the handy dandy chart above to figure out which tense you’re in.

TENSES TOO TOUGH?

If tenses give you trouble too, you can use the following version of the above chart which clears up the tense a bit better.

layvlie

Courtesy of words and stuff.

Hope this helps!

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