Introduction to Grammar Guidelines

With texting, Facebook, and Twitter fast becoming main modes of communication, the new shorthand lingo that is developing will no doubt bring about a higher frequency of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. The rules that define proper English seem to fade into the distance as more people forget them and replace that knowledge with acronyms such as OMG and LOL. The hope for this site is to reinforce proper English grammar and continue to encourage eloquent writing and speech.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lie vs. Lay

The proper use of "lie" and "lay" is tough for English speakers to grasp. We get it wrong all of the time. We use forms of "lie" when we mean "lay" and forms of "lay" when we mean "lie."

Lie: "to assume a horizontal position on a supporting surface" or to tell a lie.
Lay: "to place on a surface."

What does it mean to "conjugate?" "To give the different forms of a verb." Let's conjugate "lie" and "lay" so we can understand what form to use when speaking or writing.

Conjugation of "lie:"
Present                 Past (to take a horizontal position/to tell a lie)
(I) lie                                lay/lied
(You) lie                          lay/lied
(He/She) lies                   lay/lied
(We) lie                            lay/lied
(They) lie                         lay/lied

Gerund = lying
Past = lain (to take a horizontal position)/lied (to tell a lie)

Conjugation of Lay:
Present                   Past
(I) lay                       laid
(You) lay                  laid
(He/She) lays            laid
(We) lay                   laid
(They) lay                 laid

Gerund = laying
Past = laid

I am going to lie down for a little while.
She laid the wedding present on the table.

Source: (The Pocket Oxford American Dictionary of Current English. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 163, 446, and 455)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for such bright examples which can help to distinguish these similar words. By the way, if you're eager to learn more, come here post