lizabelle: (Book and sea)
There seems to be growing confusion about the proper use of the verbs "to lie" (to recline) and "to lay" (to place or put down). I see it on the internet all the time, and among other things it seems to be endemic to the fitness profession in real life. Here's my attempt to straighten things out.

Essentially, lie is a "doing" verb, while lay is a passive one. A person lies down, but a thing must be laid down BY someone. (In grammatical terms, "to lie" is an intransitive verb while "to lay" is a transitive verb that requires a direct object to complete it.)

Conjugating 'to lie' )

Conjugating 'to lay' )

Examples:

INCORRECT: Lay down on your mat.*
CORRECT: Lie down on your mat.

INCORRECT: They lie the yoga mats on the ground.
CORRECT: They lay the yoga mats on the ground.

INCORRECT: The cats were laying on the bed.
CORRECT: The cats were lying on the bed.

CORRECT USE OF "TO LIE": I lie on my bed, remembering yesterday, when I lay by the beach in the sunshine. I have lain there many times, listening to the waves.

CORRECT USE OF "TO LAY": I lay down the teacup carefully. Yesterday I laid it down carelessly and spilt the tea. I have laid down many cups in my time, and have a tendency to be careless with them.


*Yoga instructors, I'm looking at you.

I'm not an expert, but I do work with languages. I hope this post clarifies things a little, rather than confusing them! Also, I think it's the rule that anyone posting about grammar or spelling errors has to make an embarrassing error somewhere in the post, so if you notice anything, please feel free to point it out.

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lizabelle

June 2014

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