Word Tip: Lay or Lie?

scrabble tiles with magnifying glass

I like to say I help my clients use the right words to highlight what makes them remarkable and compelling to the people they want to serve. To do that requires knowing what the right words are.

From time to time, I will publish posts that spotlight issues I see people having with word choice, and I will offer tips to help them use the right words.

Today: Using lay and lie correctly.

Lay is an action word: I will lay the book on the table. The prosecutor laid all the blame on the defendant. Watch the sheriff as he lays down the law.

Maybe this is where people get confused: “Lay” also is the past tense of lie, which refers to a state of reclining along a horizontal plane. Thus,  He lay on the beach all day. NOTE: He laid on the beach all day also is correct.

Other forms of lie: I lie on his bench because I am homeless (present tense); She is lying down on the bed (present participle).

Here’s another place people might feel confused: “Lie” also means to make an untrue statement. When using “lie” in that sense, the forms are I/you/we lie, he/she/it lies, he/she/it /we lied, everybody’s lying.

I’d love to discuss word choice with you whether you are looking for a book editor in Boston or ghostwriting services, feel free to contact me. We can explore how I can help you find the right words to help your business.

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