One of the most confusing words in the English language is lay (or is it lie?). Most of us have no idea about the rules that make lay and lie so difficult. We probably use them incorrectly all the time. As we move from the present tense to the past, lay, laid, lain, things get even murkier.
Recently I found an amazing blog post that helped me sort all this out. I’m sharing it here with you. Someday you’ll thank me. Today, you’ll probably curse me for ever bringing up the question.
Brian tells us whether we use lay or lie (or the consistent past participles) depends on the object of our verb. Both mean the same thing–to put something aside. I bet you knew that already. What you didn’t know is the words change depending on what you put aside. As Brian neatly points out in the blog, if you’re putting aside a book, you lay it aside. If you put yourself aside, you lie down. Furthermore, the common bedtime story that says, “Now I lay me down to sleep” is actually correct. Can you see why? (Lay has an object and that object is me).
Good grief! I won’t go into the past tense lay, laid, and lain (No, I didn’t make a mistake. Lay is not only the present tense with an object, it also serves as the past tense for lie –She lay down for a nap last evening.)
Can you see why these words give us headaches. Imagine those people trying to learn English! Thank you Brian for sharing this wonderful information with us. Someday, all of you will thank me as well.