Are you lying or laying?

Lay, Lie, Lying, Lain, Laid, Lied?  What is happening?

Lay and Lie and their past tense forms confuse most people. Think of these word forms in two ways to simplify it:

Lay has an object. Lie does not. What does that mean, you may ask?

Here’s a simple example:

Present tense –

Lay: “Please take the flowers and lay them on the table.”  flowers=object.

Lay is to put or set something down.

Lie: “Why don’t you lie down for a while.”

Lie refers to recline.

Past tense –

She laid the flowers on the table.

I felt ill, so I lay down. [this sounds incorrect to most people.]

Present participle

I was laying the flowers on the table.

I have been lying around ill all day.

Last — the ever-confusing Past Participle:

(who remembers this?)  – describing what happened in the past. And this will sound odd to you.

She had laid the flowers on the table when asked.

I lain there for some time before I felt better.

Lay, laid, laid, laying (has an object)

Lie, laid, lain, lying (reclining, no object)

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