Problems With Verbs – Lay, Lie.

Do you lie in on Saturday mornings, or lay in? Do you lay the rug on the floor, or lie it? People often use the verb to lay for to lie (and occasionally to lie for to lay). But in Standard English the two verbs are quite distinct.
To lay is almost always transitive – that is, it takes a direct object, or occurs in the passive. Its primary meaning is ‘to cause (something or someone) to lie down, to place (something or someone) in a stationary or reclining position’: Please lay the fish knives to the right of the butter knives; Please lay the rug down over the titles: the Broad is laying down guidelines for staff to follow in emergencies like this. Sometimes, to lay is used in an extended sense: to lay the table; to lay a ghost; to lay the blame on someone; Now I lay me down to sleep. And in two exceptional cases, it can be used intransitively: The hens won’t lay until the storm subsides; The ship is laying aft.
To lie means primarily ‘to recline, to be positioned on a flat surface, or to move into such a position’. It is always intransitive in Standard English – that is, it takes no direct object.
The chief reason for the confusion between to lay and to lie is that the past of to lie is lay: We lay in the grass all morning; Mountains lay to the north, impenetrable swamps to the south. But, the other forms of the two verbs are always different: lie, lay, lain, lying, lies; and lay, laid, laid, laying, lays.
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