Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How did the chicken lay the egg?

Notice that the body was LYING on the ground!

Question:  I'm told I constantly mix up Lay and Lie. Is there an easy way to remember which one to use?

Answer:  Be careful of “Lay” and “Lie”usage.  It's easy to get them wrong as sometimes lay is a verb, sometimes a noun.... Gotta think what you're saying.

Lie is a verb, with tenses lie, lay, lain. I will lie down, I did lay down. I have lain down, and the past participle is was lying, as shown above. Never was laying.

It can also be an adjective describing a situation, as in “the lie of the land,” and can be both a noun (he told a lie) or a verb (You lied!) when the meaning is that of telling an untruth. 

Lay, another verb, has the tenses lay, laid, and has laid. Lay is interchangeable with lie, only if used as an adjective (the lay of the land), but it’s use as a verb means to put or set down.

For example you can “set the table” or “lay the table.”  Webster’s Ninth does not list “layed” and I don’t believe it is a real word, though I have seen it in print. I believe the correct word there is "laid" however amusing that may be to some people.

Lay can also mean that something is produced, as when a hen lays an egg. But she laid the egg, or she had laid the egg, if you get into past and past perfect tenses of “lay” when the chicken and egg kind of lay is used. One joking way to remember is, “People sit, but objects get set. Objects lay, people get laid. ”

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