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English Vocabulary

Common Mistakes and Confusing Words in English

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lay vs lie

Lay is an irregular transitive verb (lay / laid / laid - laying). It needs a direct object. It means to put something or someone down (often in a horizontal postion).

For example: "Lay your head on the pillow."

Lie is an irregular intransitive verb (lie / lay / lain - lying). It does not take a direct object. It means to rest in a horizontal position1 or to be located somewhere2.

For example: "If you are tired lie here and have a rest."1
"Nottingham lies in the Midlands."2

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!Lie also means to say something that isn't true but it takes the following form (lie / lied / lied - lying).

!To lay can also describe a chicken or other animal who produce eggs. The hen laid two eggs this morning.