Lie vs Lay

The reason those two are most confusing is because lie and lay are used incorrectly most often. We hear them wrong everywhere so we doubt ourselves; in movies, in songs, in the news... They are actually confusing for several reasons we mention below. Once you clearly understand the difference, it shouldn't be a problem anymore.

Other Vocabulary:
Lie vs Lay
All vs Whole
See vs Watch vs Look
Dead vs Death vs Died
Accept vs Except vs Expect
Altogether vs All Together
Fit or Suit
Affect or Effect
Advice vs Advise
Similar English Words


Lie is a verb and means to rest or recline and it does not require a direct object.

Base FormPast TensePast Participle

I often lie down on the floor when my back aches.

I lie in bed everyday.


Lay is a verb meaning to place something down, and thus, it requires a direct object.

Base FormPast TensePast Participle

I lay my suitcase on the table when I come home everyday.

Lay or Lie

We don't say "I lay down" in present tense.

When we say "Lay down Jack." we are telling others to put Jack down horizontally.
So we cannot say something like
"You are tired. Why don't you lay down?" (Lay down what?)

There must be something to lay down.
Lay yourself down. (awkward)

We say "Lie down Jack, you look tired."

Remember by thinking of the phrase "lay an egg". Birds lay their eggs (down).


As you may have noticed, past tense of "to lie" is lay, that's one of the biggest reasons why we confuse them. When used in past tense:

I lay down on the sofa when I went home yesterday. (past tense)
The verb used above is not "to lay", it's the past tense of "to lie".


Remember that "to lie" also has the meaning of making an untruthful statement intentionally. Past and past participle of that "lie" is lied and lied which should not be confused with the "lie" as in "lie down".

Lie vs Lay Exercise

Choose the correct options to complete the sentences.

1. My son was asleep so I carried him to his room and him on his bed.

2. I in bed for hours but I was awake the whole time.

3. I think she to me because I already know what really happened.

4. I am going to on the floor, it helps with my back ache.

5. I was scared that something happened to him as he just there motionless.

6. Let's down a little bit and rest.

7. Can we it down now? We are so tired.

8. We've finally the couch on the ground after carrying it for 20 minutes.

9. He's been on the ground for 2 hours.

10. Ken seemed to have in the sun since the morning.

Correctness =
Correct answers:

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