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Lay versus Lie in the Past Tense

2014 April 23
by Fay Lamb

Laying Spelled WrongYesterday, we discussed the present tense of lay versus lie, which isn’t very complicated when compared with the past tense.

A chart helps us to remember the correct usage:

To lay:

Present tense: lay(s)

Past tense: laid

Past participle: laid

Present participle laying


Past Tense: I laid the book on the table.

Past Participle: I had laid the book on the table.

Present Participle: Laying the book on the table, I left it there.

To lie:

Present tense: lie(s)

Past tense: lay

Past participle: lain

Present participle: lying


Past Tense: Yesterday, she lay down on the couch.

Past Participle: Last week, she had lain on the couch.

Present Participle: She is lying on the couch.

Now to simplify the matter. Did you notice that the same rule we discussed concerning the present tense of lie/lay applies in the past tense as well? Lay in all tenses requires a direct object while lie in all tenses does not.

One Response Post a comment
  1. April 26, 2014

    🙂 Thanks Fay!

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