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Get Your Grammar Fix(ed): Lie vs. Lay (and we have a winner!)

Here we go, you guys! Before we get to the one-minute lesson, THANK YOU for commenting and following our blog. Keep it up, keep it up! As promised, I put all of our followers/commenters into the random number generator. Boyfriend-Who-Is-My-Husband selected our lucky winner.

[Looks around to see if people are on the edge of their seats]

It's April Newell, everyone!
O Frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!*

*Lewis Carroll is chortling in his joy with us, I bet. April, contact us at alittleredinc@gmail(dot)com, and we'll get your gift card to you! Thanks for participating.

On to today's lesson! And I'm down to 45 seconds.

Lie vs Lay:

There are two wholly different verbs confusing us here. (This doesn't have anything to do with fibbing, by the way. That's a third verb, and we're not interested in it today.)

"To lie" is an intransitive verb, which means it does not have an object.

The principal parts of the verb "to lie" are:

lie(s) (present), as in "I lie in the grass and read, but not as often as I'd like to."

lay (past), as in "Yesterday, I lay down on the terra cotta floor, because it was so stinking hot."

lying (present participle). "Right now, I ought to be lying in my bed. But I'm writing."

and lain (past participle, used to form the perfect and past perfect tenses). "I have lain around the house in my pajamas all week, simply because I can."

I won't tell whether that's true or not. But some of you may have seen me.

Then, there is "to lay," as in to lay an object down. "Lay" is a transitive verb. Remember it like this: TRANSitive verbs must TRANSfer their action to an object.

The principal parts of the verb "to lay" are:

lay(s) (present), as in "Short Son lays his metaphorical cards on the table--and then pulls out his baseball cards."

laid (past), "I laid down the law when my kids thought they could use the couch as a diving platform." Does that happen at anyone else's house?

laying (present participle), "I am laying out clothes for Smalls, because he will wear the same thing four days in a row if I don't."

and laid (past participle). "The hen had laid over a thousand eggs before she died." (Hey, I don't know if that's possible, but I'm not fact-checking here. Just giving examples. The grammar is what matters, chicken-tenders.)

So, in order to use the correct form, pay attention to whether or not the verb has an object.

If it doesn't, "lay" can only be past tense.

If there's an object, then "lay" is present.

What else is tough for you to remember? Share a few grammar mistakes and pet peeves below. We'll get to them another Saturday!


  1. 4:30 am? I LOVE the lesson. How about "They've both written books.....or they've each written a book? Same or different?

  2. GREAT suggestion. By the way, I scheduled the post for 8:30 AM (PST). I was most definitely not awake that early in the AM. You know me, right?

  3. Love this lesson! Bookmarking it because I know I'll forget it in about...five, four, three, two...yep, I'm that bad.

    1. Oh, no! Surely you're not THAT bad, Julie. (I am that bad about other things. Math-y things.) I'm glad it was helpful.

  4. Interesting and education and fun! Will catch up later.

  5. Ugh, I am ALWAYS forgetting this and have to look it up. It seems like nothing sticks in my head as far as this goes. :(


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