Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Lay and Lie

lie-dbTo lay and lie, each of these terms has a variety of definitions that range from common, basically everyday use, to slang and the more obscure intents. There are some basic definitions and there are some connecting factors among some of those definitions. There are also subtle but distinct rules that define when one should use each term.

Lay is a word that has many definitions including usage in some idioms. In regard to the common and direct usages it is a verb. It also has, in most uses, an external quality. In lay-dbmost instances it refers to an action that is performed on a thing or object. You might lay your keys on the counter, for example. In fewer uses there may be no object, but these instances may require a knowledge that assumes the object. One instance is if an individual were to say that the chicken lays. It assumed that you know that this implies the chicken lays eggs. As the typical definitions refer to putting or placing this might be considered a stereotypical action verb.

Lie is a verb of a different nature. It is a verb that often simply means that a thing remains in a state. Lie is often used without an object. Examples include uses such as ‘the keys lie upon the table’, ‘lie in bed’ and others. In general a sense of resting or relying is common to the definitions of lie including ones that are more conceptual such as ‘the weight of this knowledge lies heavy on my mind’. There is also a completely different usage of lie that is not really related to lay. This is the action of to provide a statement that isn’t true with the intention of deceit. This is, despite its unrelated nature, a common use of the word and listed in many dictionaries before the definitions related to being in a place or state.

Lie and lay have definite similarities and some definite differences. It might be said that after the action of lay the state of lie may occur, but there are instances where that simply isn’t true.

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