What’s the difference? Lay vs. Lie

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What is the difference between ‘LAY’ and ‘LIE’? Here’s a quick explanation and an exercise.

This is quite confusing, so first of all we have to make clear that we are not referring
to the regular verb ‘to lie’ (not to tell the truth: Lie – Lied – Lied – Lying).

The confusion is between the irregular verb ‘TO LIE’ (Lie – Lay – Lain – Lying) which is far more similar in meaning to ‘LAY’ (Lay – Laid – Laid – Laying).

Let’s look at some examples from the story, ‘Aethelflaed and the Rock Star’,  (available on Amazon as e-book or paperback):

  • ‘The cat was laid in his basket, and now he enjoyed every time he lay
    out in the garden.’

The first word is from the verb ‘LAY’ and the second from ‘LIE’.

So what’s the difference between ‘LAY’ and ‘LIE’? Look at these other examples, identify the verb and try to see the difference of meaning:

  1. ‘Moonzip spent all his time lying on Aethelflaed’s bed.’
  2. Lay a finger on me, and he’s done for.”
  3. Joe Cur lay down on his deckchair and drank his tea.
  4. “She remembered her dad laying down a blanket….”

________ means ‘to put something down carefully (usually on a flat surface)’.
________ means ‘to be in a horizontal position (usually because you are resting)’.

Now complete these sentences with the right verb (lie, lay or lie= not tell the truth) in its correct form:

1. “Have you ________ the table, Stan?” “No, Moonzip _______ it.”
2. Since Squeaky was ______ in his basket, he’s been ______ there all morning.”
3. “Moonzip! You told me Heidi was ______ on my bed. You _______ to me!”
4. Alfred is ______ on the sofa. He feels a bit tired.

There are many more activities and exercises in the Aethelflaed series of books.  Remember you can download samples from Amazon, or you can subscribe to get the first few chapters absolutely free!

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