Mighty Red Pen

June 8, 2007

Lay versus lie

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 12:28 pm

MRP has trouble keeping these straight herself. This may help:

Hat tip: Harry Bliss.

According to Strunk and White, lay is a transitive verb that should not be confused with the intransitive verb lie. I find this explanation only sort of helpful.

It might be easier to remember that a hen lays an egg, your mom lies down because you are giving her a headache.


  1. And I lie to you because you cannot handle the truth.

    Comment by David — June 8, 2007 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  2. What I think of David’s response.

    Comment by Molie — June 8, 2007 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  3. Molie,

    So unkind.

    Comment by David — June 11, 2007 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  4. How long has this idea for an entry been lain around? No, really, I quit using “lain” because it felt stilted.

    Molie may enjoy this example from Grammarcheck:

    Example: Susie has (lain/laid) on the basement sofa for two days now.

    1. “Susie has rested on the basement sofa for two days now” makes more sense than “Susie has placed on the basement sofa for two days now,” so the correct verb form is “lain.”

    2. Who has lain or laid? Susie. What has she lain or laid? Her entire body, which is connected physically to the person who has lain or laid. The correct verb form is “lain.”

    Susie has LAIN on the basement sofa for two days now.

    Comment by HelensDad — June 11, 2007 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  5. Sorry David I just could not resist.

    Dear Helen’s Dad, Please replace basement with lawn, also grammar check is dirty.

    Comment by Molie — June 11, 2007 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  6. Susie has a lawn sofa? Wow! Really though, you haven’t answered the question: what has Susie lain or laid? Or, better yet, what hasn’t Susie lain or laid? You can’t hide your lying eyes.

    Comment by HelensDad — June 12, 2007 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  7. […] rule can be found here at the Mighty Red Pen […]

    Pingback by Lay? Lie? Sit? Roll Over? | dtccparalegalprogram — January 22, 2014 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: