Thursday, September 26, 2013

Now I lie ME?

   It was just another ordinary school day for fifteen year old Zac Hudson and his friends. Little did he know that this day would mark the beginning of the end for the highly technological society in which he lived, and it would be the start of a struggle for survival.
Question from the e-mail:  I keep getting lay and lie mixed up. Can you help?

Answer: Watch Lay and Lie. Despite what we all learned at our mothers’ knee, “Now I lay me down to sleep” is archaic use of the English language and no longer correct. Lie is a verb, with tenses lie, lie, lain. I will lie down, I did lie down. I have lain down, and the past participle is "was lying." 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 lie!) 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 mean to put or set down. For example you can “set the table” or “lay the table”, but you can’t “lie 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. 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 may Lie, and Objects may lay, but  People will get laid!" 


  1. I do think that when preceding a direct object, lay would be correct. I lay the book on the table, I lay me (my body) down to go night-night. But maybe I'm wrong.

  2. Actually, according to my 12th grade English Teacher, people get Laid. Now I laid me and I laid the book on the table. Of course the dread Mariema (pronounced Mary-Emma) Insley MAY have been wrong, but she was also John Barth's English teacher...