Do you lie?

Have you ever heard anyone use the word lain? I don’t think I have ever heard this in my lifetime, probably because most people don’t know how to use it correctly. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know how to conjugate and use the verb “lie.” I don’t even use the word lie (unless I’m talking about an untruth) because I never remember how to use it.


Well, I decided after 21 years it’s time to learn the proper way of using this verb… so I asked Google. It may be nerdy, but it bothers me to sound ignorant. Sadly, I probably have a lot more grammar issues to work on, but this is a start. What I’d like to know is… do they forget to teach us some of these things in school? Or do we not comprehend them/forget?

I’m going to share with you what I learned incase you have similar problems with this irregular verb.

Here’s a chart from Grammar Girl that is helpful:


First off, you need to know that there are two different words and meanings in this grammar mess: lie and lay.

To lie is to assume a horizontal or resting position. You lie in bed.

To lay is to put something down. It requires a direct object– the verb is acting on that object. You lay down a book.

Those forms are present tense. Moving on to past tense gets tricky…

Why is lay the past tense of lie? It’s a different meaning than the other use of lay, but the same word! I suppose whoever made this up liked confusion.

So to use lie in the past tense, you say lay. Yesterday, I lay down for bed at 10 pm.
(It sounds really funny if you aren’t used to it!)

You do not say, Yesterday I laid down for a nap. (GUILTY!)
The word laid is the past tense of lay, not of lie. So you could say, Yesterday I laid that book down on your desk.

And then finally, the past participle form of lie is lain. I have lain here for hours without falling asleep.

The past participle of lay is laid (same as the past tense). I have laid the book on your desk.


Did I lose anyone?


Feel free to correct me from now on if I misuse these verbs. They’re tricky whether you have the rules in front of you or not. I can see it won’t be easy to change my ways!

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