The transitive verb lay, and lay, the past tense of the neuter verb

lie, are often confounded, though quite different in meaning. The

neuter verb to lie, meaning to lie down or rest, cannot take the

objective after it except with a preposition. We can say "He lies on

the ground," but we cannot say "He lies the ground," since the verb is

neuter and intransitive and, as such, cannot have a direct object. With

lay it is different. Lay is a transitive verb, therefore it takes a

direct object after it; as "I lay a wager," "I laid the carpet," etc.

Of a carpet or any inanimate subject we should say, "It lies on the

floor," "A knife lies on the table," not lays. But of a person we

say--"He lays the knife on the table," not "He lies----." Lay being

the past tense of the neuter to lie (down) we should say, "He lay on

the bed," and lain being its past participle we must also say "He has

lain on the bed."

We can say "I lay myself down." "He laid himself down" and such


It is imperative to remember in using these verbs that to lay means to

do something, and to lie means to be in a state of rest.

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