Thursday, February 28, 2008

More on Lay and Lie

One reason there is so much confusion between the verbs to lay and to lie is that their past tenses sound alike. Here's a quick and easy rundown and reference for you to use whenever you need it. Feel free to copy and paste, but if you use it online or in an article or book, please give me credit. Thank you!

Present Indicative Tense
  • I lay
  • you lay (thou layest, if you're writing Shakespearean or Biblical English)
  • he lays, she lays, it lays (he, she or it layeth)
  • we lay
  • you lay
  • they lay

Past Tense

  • I laid
  • you laid (thou laidest)
  • he laid, she laid, it laid (he, she or it laideth)
  • we laid
  • you laid
  • they laid

Past Perfect Tense

  • I have laid
  • you have laid (thou hast laid)
  • he has laid, she has laid, it has laid (he, she or it hath laid)
  • we have laid
  • you have laid
  • they have laid

Past Imperfect Tense

  • I had laid
  • you had laid (thou hadest laid--or maybe it's haddest)
  • he had laid, she had laid, it had laid, (he, she or it hadeth laid)
  • we had laid
  • you had laid
  • they had laid


Present Indicative Tense

  • I lie
  • you lie (thou liest)
  • he lies, she lies, it lies (he, she or it lieth)
  • we lie
  • you lie
  • they lie

Past Tense

  • I lay (See, this is where the confusion comes in!)
  • you lay (thou layest)
  • he lay, she lay, he lay (he, she or it, layeth)
  • we lay
  • you lay
  • they lay

Past Imperfect

  • I had lain
  • you had lain (thou hadest lain)
  • he had lain, she had lain, it had lain (he, she or it hadeth lain)
  • we had lain
  • you had lain
  • they had lain

Past Perfect

  • I have lain
  • you have lain (thou hast lain)
  • he has lain, she has lain, it has lain (he, she or it hath lain)
  • we have lain
  • you have lain
  • they have lain

Notice that these past tenses for to lie do not apply to prevarication, where the variation is on lied.

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