Friday, November 14, 2008

Laid, Lain, Lay, Lie

These four words, "laid," "lain," "lay" and "lie" are a thorn in my side. To be quite honest, it's embarrassing. Here I am, 22 years old and I can't even speak the king's English. I know "it's" and "its," I know "there," "their" and "they're." I tried Googling it and I got a bunch of stuff that sounds like this,

The confusion lies in that the simple past tense of lie is lay (past participle: lain) and resembles the simple present of lay. Lie= to rest, lie down is an intransitive verb . Lay= to put or place something (on a surface) is transitive.


Carissa. Help.


carissa said...

all right, all right. um.

"lie" means the subject's personal body is horizontal. it can't take a direct object (intransitive; you can't say, "yesterday she lay it down" or "i'm lying myself down").
present: i lie, i'm lying
past: i lay
perfect: i have lain, had lain

"lay" is when the subject is putting something else down. it HAS to take a direct object (transitive). so "Jesus lays down his life" (present) but "Jesus laid down his life" (past).
present: i lay, i'm laying
past: i laid
perfect: i have laid, had laid

got it?

if not, it really doesn't matter, ash. this, i feel, is one of those losing battles in English and in a hundred years, there will be no such thing as lie and lay. i bet it'll all be the same word. how's that for motivation?

Ken said...

I am a 47 year old CEO for a small company and I don't always remember which word is correct. At least your Blog helped me today.

Have a blessed day and study to show yourself approved...