Grammar Check: Lay vs. Lie

GC Lay and Lie

English is a pesky language with words such as there, they’re, and their, it’s and its, and a lot of other words that sound the same, are spelled differently, and have different meanings.

I’m sure most of this is easy stuff to you, but as I’ve been writing my Camp NaNo novel, Hunter, I noticed a lot of those green squiggly lines. Well… Not a lot, but more than I would like.

I also noticed that most of those lines came from two little words: lay and lie.

I type fast and therefore make a lot of typos. I don’t think these were typos. I think I wasn’t unsure of which one to put because I had to get the rest of the sentence down so I picked one at random; and most of the time it was the wrong word.


Lay means to put something down. Yet, there are different forms of the word for each tense, like so:

Present tense: Rachel lays down her laptop on her desk.
Past tense: Rachel laid down her laptop on her desk.

So, lay and laid means to put something, an object, down. It sounds simple enough.


Lie means to rest, as in you are resting.

Present tense: Rachel lies down on the couch turning on the TV.
Past tense: Rachel lay down on the couch turning on the TV.

So, lie and lay means to rest.

Did any of you catch that?

Lay has two different meanings.

You know, we have 26 letters in the alphabet and virtually no limit to how many letters get put into a word. There are so many word possibilities, yet we still choose to reuse the same ones and give them different meanings. I don’t get it.

I just got my Bachelors degree in English Studies and I just learned this. (I would like to give a shout out to Google… Thanks, Google!)

The definitions and tenses aren’t really that hard to remember or figure out, but I needed to point it out anyway. I didn’t realize I was using the same word for a completely different meaning.

English sure is a funny language.

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