Laid vs. Lay vs. Lie

The English language is full of complicated and confusing words. One combo of such words is, lay, lie, and laid. These words have been confusing people for ages. Let’s find out what these words mean and when to use them.

What Does Lie Mean?

The word lie has two meanings. It means to be in a resting or horizontal position (of a person or animal) on a supporting surface as a verb. The past tense of this form is lay. Its verb forms include lie-lay-lain.


  • He is going to lie down in the room.
  • He likes to lie on her back.
  • He lies on the couch.
  • The nurse asked me to lie down.
  • It is best to lie down and play dead.
  • I am going to lie down on the floor.
  • The town of Tadoussac lies between shoreline and mountains.
  • You can lie down in my room and have a rest.
  • Could I lie down for a while?
  • Lie down on the grass and feel the cool breeze.
  • She lies on the beach.

Another meaning of the word lie is to tell a falsehood. The past tense of this form is lied. All three forms of this verb include lie-lied-lied. 

Let’s see some examples:


  • She intentionally lies to everyone.
  • I do not need to lie to her.
  • What did she lie about?
  • I don’t want to lie to the police.
  • Did you lie to her?
  • The police might use a lie detector to learn about the truth.
  • “I am sure Emma didn’t lie to us,” John said.
  • “I didn’t lie,” she said with righteous anger.
  • She never could lie to Ruskin.
  • The police saw no reason to lie.
  • For the first time in life, I lie.
  • How could she tell such a big lie

What Does Lay Mean?

Like lie, the word lay also has two versions. Lay as a verb means to put something down gently or place something in a particular direction. It is a regular verb that must have an object. The past tense of this form is laid. Its verb forms go like this: lay-laid-laid. 


  • I lay keys on the table.
  • Don’t lay the mirror on the floor.
  • She lays the book on the table.
  • Emma lays the pencil on the table after writing.
  • Lay the flower vase gently on the table so I can fix the crack.
  • Lay the pillows back on the couch.
  • Don’t lay books on those shelves.
  • Lay my spectacles on the dressing table.
  • Could you please lay this clock on the table?
  • Lay it on the tray carefully.
  • Do not lay the plate on the bed.

Another version of the word lay is the simple past tense of lie, which means to recline or lie back in a relaxed position with the back supported. It is an irregular verb that doesn’t take an object. Its verb forms are, lie-lay-lain.


  • Rosy lay on the sofa and watched TV.
  • She lay for a long time in the same position.
  • She lay down on her back and pulled the covers up.
  • He lay like a distorted corpse; maybe he was unconscious.
  • She lay down on the floor and relaxed.
  • He lay down, hugging it.
  • I lay on the floor in prison for three days.
  • She lay down and was asleep right away.
  • He dusted off his bed and lay down.
  • A hungry cat lay in the corner, crying pathetically.
  • I lay on my back and looked up at the stars.

Note: The difference between these two versions is, lay, which means to recline is something you do all on your own. And the lay, which means to place something, is something you do to something else – it requires an object to lay.  

Check out the following examples to get a sense of how to use lie and lay correctly in sentences based on their meanings. 

  • Inaccurate: I lie the pen on the table.
  • Accurate: I lay the pen on the table. 

In the second example, the pen is the object that is placed on the table.

  • Inaccurate: You can lay down on the bed until you feel better.
  • Accurate: You can lie down on the bed until you feel better. In this scenario, the person is being told to place their body on the bed.

Lie is the correct verb in the second example because there is no direct object to put somewhere and the sentence indicates to be recumbent.

What Does Laid Mean?

The word laid is the past simple, and past participle tense of the verb lay, which means to put something down. See the following examples. 


  • She laid down her pen and looked at me.
  • He laid down his gun as soon as I shouted
  • Soldiers laid down their lives for the country.
  • He laid the newspaper aside to talk to me.
  • She laid her head on his chest and wept.
  • John laid his hand on her arm.
  • She laid all the treasure at my feet, and I accepted her as a friend.
  • I picked up the bowls and laid them on the counter in front of the guests.
  • She removed her jacket and laid it over the back of the chair.
  • I removed my shoes and laid them on the rack.

How to Remember the Difference Between Lay and Lie

The most common misunderstanding is between lay, which means to place and lie that indicates to recline. Since both actions are quite similar people often get confused when to use which. There is a trick that can help you remember the difference between both words and how to use them correctly.

You can bear in mind that you need to use lay when you need to pLAce something and lie when you mean recLIne. You can note LA to lay “in place” and LI to lie “in recline.”

We hope this post helps you learn the difference between this combo of three confusing words.


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