Difference between Lay and Lie

Lie and lay sound similar, they look similar, their meanings are similar, and don’t get us started on the similarities between their different tenses. Lay and Lie are such a pair of words, which are not only spelled differently but their pronunciation is also different. Still, they cause confusion in people due to some similarity in their meanings. You lie down, but you lay something down. Lay is used to put something down in a horizontal position. Lay requires a direct object.

On the contrary, Lie is used to put oneself in a horizontal position. ‘Lie’ does not require a direct object. It has one more meaning, i.e. to make an untrue statement. While lay represents an action that is under progress, lie talks about the position of a person, which is either reclining or changes into reclining position. A lie is an untruth. However, it’s the verb form of lie that people find difficult to distinguish from lay.

Difference between Lay and Lie –


  • Lay basically means to put or place a person/object down in an even position. It means to put a person or an object down in a flat position.
  • The verb lay is a transitive verb, and so there is a direct object following it.
  • In general, we use the word ‘lay’ to place an object in an even position, i.e. to arrange something over a plane horizontally. Nevertheless, it has a variety of meanings, which depends on the context we are using it.
  • When we are using lay in our sentence, it means that we are putting down an inanimate object.
  • Examples: She laid the books on the top shelf. Priya laid the glasses on the tray.


  • Lie means to recline or to rest on a surface, with back supported. It means to remain or to move oneself in a resting or reclining position on a surface, i.e. on your own.
  • The word ‘lie’ is an intransitive verb, and so it does not have any direct object.
  • The word lie is used to refer to be or to move in a reclining or resting position on a surface, i.e. bed, sofa, floor, or any other object. It is an intransitive verb, as it does not takes any object.
  • When we are using a lie, you are doing it on your own. For Example, Shael laid the spectacles in its case and lay on the sofa.
  • Examples: All the friends are lying on bed and playing cards. Kate lies on her mother’s lap.