Lay vs. Lie

This is a tough one (for me) to remember. It helps when I associate lay with objects and lie with people.


I will walk to the desk and lay the book down.

I am going to lie down for a nap.



The past tense of lay is laid-easy enough. Just when I think I’ve got it, it gets confusing again, because the past tense of lie is lay. (I get a headache just thinking about it.)

I walked to the desk and laid the book down.

I went to lay down for a nap.



This one is easier once you have the hang of past tense.

I had walked to the desk and laid the book down. (Same as past tense)

I had lain down for a nap.


I keep this chart in my little book of notes in case I forget.

PRESENT                PAST               PAST PARTICIPLE

Lie                             lay                             lain

lay                            laid                            laid

About Laurie Gardiner

Laurie has loved writing as long as she can remember. Her first published work, “'Til Death Do Us Part,” placed first in the 1997 Cambridge Writers’ Collective short story contest. Her latest works include short stories, “Retribution" and "Thief," appearing respectively in Scout Media's 2016 and 2017 anthologies, A Journey of Words and A Haunting of Words. Over the years, her poetry has also been published in various anthologies. Her debut novel, Tranquility, published in 2015, by Escargot Books and Music, was inspired by her work as a personal support worker specializing in dementia care. In 2015, she graduated with honors from Conestoga College’s Creative Writing program. She’s a Canadian, an avid reader, a yogi, and a Gemini. She grew up on a farm in remote northern Ontario, and now lives in Cambridge, Ontario with her husband and cat.
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