Difference between Lay and Lie in tabular form

difference between Lay and LieWe explain that what is the difference between Lay and Lie with table. The difference between Lay and Lie is that the former requires a medium to get the job done. That is, another individual or object is required to lay something down. While no means is required for the latter.

Lay and Lie are two separate terms in the English language. They differ from each other not only in terms of spelling, but also in pronunciation. However, there are confusions about its use since its meaning is very similar.

Both are related to a horizontal position. But there is a very little difference between them that needs to be taken into account before using them.

The meaning of ‘Lay’ is to place an object or an individual in a horizontal position. For example; she put her bag on the table.

On the other hand, ‘lying’ means sitting or being in a horizontal position on our own. For example; I can lie down alone or I can lie in my bed all day.

Comparison table between Lay and Lie

Lay Lie Comparison Parameter

Sense Placing something or someone in a flat position. Stand or lay in a flat position.
Verb type Transitive or regular verb. Intransitive or irregular verb
Pronunciation Leɪ Theɪ
Simple past Position Laic
Homophones 1. Lei: a garland (of flowers)
2. Ley: a variant of Lea meaning an open area of ​​arable or grassy land.
Bleach: liquid obtained from filtered wood ash.

What is meant by Lay?

It refers to the act of putting something or someone in a position of rest. The term is of Germanic origin and corresponds to the Dutch word leggen and the German word legen. It is used primarily as a verb and requires a direct object. In other words, it is a transitive verb.

Apart from the meaning of “put something down” from “Lay”, there are many other meanings of “lay” that are used in different contexts. They are:

  1. Prepare: Mainly a project or plan, etc. For example:
    1. She presented the building plan.
  2. To establish or establish: Mainly laws or principles. For example;
    1. The Preamble establishes the principles enshrined in the Constitution.
  3. To place one material on top of another material to cover the latter:
    1. The floor was covered with rugs.
  4. To submit a suggestion or proposal:
    1. He presented the new project proposals to the board of directors.
  5. Place a bet or take a risk:
    1. Do not come to the party. I can put money in it
  6. To produce and deposit eggs:
    1. Ducks lay eggs.
  7. To impose a tax, a penalty or an order, etc .:
    1. The government has imposed a property tax on the property.
  8. To impute or accuse or blame:
    1. I am aware of the charges against you.

The verb forms of ‘Lay’ are as follows:

  1. Base form: Lay
  2. Past Simple: Post
  3. Past participle: Since
  4. Present participle: Tendido
  5. Third person singular: Lays

‘Lay’ is also used as a noun and applies to the following contexts:

  1. Relationship or arrangement or disposition:
    1. She gives you the layout of the terrain.
  2. It is used to describe someone’s potential as a sexual partner:
    1. He has a reputation for being an easy layman.

Another use of ‘Lay’ is that of an adjective. Consequently, it applies to the following two contexts:

  1. Not having in-depth knowledge of a specific topic:
    1. From a secular point of view, they are almost the same.
  2. Hold a temporary, unpaid position in a Church or any other religious organization:
    1. He was a lay preacher.

What is meant by a lie?

It means assuming or being in a position of rest for a person or object alone. The term is of Germanic origin and is related to the Dutch term liggen and the German term liegen.

It is used primarily as a verb that does not require an object. That is, it is an irregular or intransitive verb. As an intransitive verb, it can be applied in the following contexts:

  1. To rest in a horizontal position (mainly one thing):
    1. The books were open on the bed.
    2. The phone was on the table.
  2. Being buried in a specific place (a dead person):
    1. His body lies in a coffin.
  3. To stand or stand:
    1. The temple is located about 2 km west of the train station.
    2. Currently, Rima is in fourth place.
  4. Be in a particular state or condition:
    1. Today the bungalow is in ruins.
    2. The food was intact.
  5. A charge, action or claim that is sustainable and admissible:
    1. An action for restitution would lie for the act carried out in contravention of the law.

‘Lie’ has another meaning as well and it is giving false information to mislead someone. For example:

  1. Pinocchio’s nose grows in size when he lies.
  2. You can be punished if you find yourself lying in a court of law.

The verb forms of ‘Mentir’ (placing oneself on the ground) and ‘Mentir’ (giving false statements) differ from each other and must be taken into account when using them in a sentence.

The verb forms of ‘Lie’ (to recline) are as follows:

  1. Base form: Lie.
  2. Simple Past: Lay
  3. Past participle: Lain
  4. Present participle: Lying down
  5. Third person singular: Lies

Whereas, the verb forms of ‘Lying’ (telling a falsehood) are the following:

  1. Base form: Lie
  2. Past Simple: Lied
  3. Past participle: lied
  4. Present participle: Lying down
  5. Third person singular: Lies

‘Lie’ is also used as a noun and is applied in different contexts in the following ways:

  1. The location or address where a particular thing is located:
    1. He was getting acquainted with the lie of the streets.
  2. A false statement:
    1. It was clear from his facial expression that he was telling a lie.
    2. It was all a lie.

Main differences between Lay and Lie

  • Lay and Lie have a very fine difference in their meanings since they both talk about the horizontal position. But the first requires a means of putting something or someone in a flat position. While the latter does not need the means to do that. The object or individual assumes the position of rest on its own.
  • Lay is a transitive or regular verb. Therefore, it must have an object. But Lie is an intransitive or irregular verb and therefore does not need an object.
  • The terms also differ in their pronunciation. While Lay is pronounced like leɪ, Lie is pronounced like laɪ.
  • The main reason behind confusing these two words is that the past tense of ‘lay’ is ‘lay’ but that of ‘lie’ is ‘lay’.
  • Lay’s homophones are Lei, which means a garland of flowers, and Ley, which means arable or grassy land. Whereas Lie has only one homophone and that is Lye, which means a liquid obtained from filtered wood ash.


The confusion between Lay and Lie is mainly due to the simple past tense of ‘lie’, which is ‘lay’. To ensure that the terms are used correctly, it is necessary to take into account their verb forms.

Also, you need to recognize the object. If a sentence contains a direct object, then ‘lay’ must be used and if there is no object, lie must be used. Once these things are taken into account, there shouldn’t be much trouble misusing the terms.

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