One of the most confusing and hard-to-figure-out topics in the English language is lie vs. lay. I was going to write a somewhat-longer post to explain this issue, but just now I realized that there’s a simple way to say it: A person lies himself down, but lays objects down. Some example sentences:
“I’m tired, so I’m going to lie down.”
“Freeze! This is the police! We have you surrounded! Lay down your weapon!”
So if a person is acting on himself, on his own body, it’s lie; if he’s acting on some other object, including another human body, it’s lay. Or think of it this way: Inanimate objects can’t tell lies, but people can: people lie, and people lie.
And in case you were wondering, here are the correct forms for each word for each of the three basic tenses:
Lay: laid (past), laying (present), lay (future)
Lie: lied (past), lying (present), lie (future)
So now you’re a pro at this. You’ve earned a rest, so go lie down, then go out and lay claim to the world!
Class dismissed. =)