Laying down the law on ‘lie’ versus ‘lay’

In honor of Grammar Day, we seek to erase the rampant confusion over these two words. Here’s help for keeping them straight.

A. I take my shoes off, turn back the covers, fluff the pillow, and lay down.

B. A layer of dust was laying all over the old books.

C. The toddler laid on the floor during his tantrum.

D. According to the defendant’s testimony, he had lain the money on the desk.

E. For the last time, lay down and be quiet!

Answer: Would you be surprised to learn that none of the sentences is grammatically correct?

The words “lay” and “lie” can trip up even the most experienced writers among us. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, these two verbs “have been confused for centuries.”

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