Did the young lovers lay under the stars? Or did they lie under the stars?
Was the book laying on the table or was it lying?
Lay and Lie are two separate verbs and they have different meanings.
Do You Know the Difference between Lay and Lie?
Knowing the Difference between Lay and Lie
Lay is a transitive verb meaning “to put or to place” while lie is an intransitive verb meaning “to recline or rest.”
To make it even easier for you to use these two verbs correctly, I’m including a chart of each verb in four different tenses. When in doubt, I hope this chart helps you know what word to use.
|Present||Past||Past Participle||Present Participle|
to put or place
to recline or rest
So, to answer the questions from the beginning of the post, the young lovers did lie under the stars. And the book was laying on the table.
Why It’s Important to Know the Difference between Lay and Lie
Although in everyday situations very few people know or care about the difference, as a writer it’s important to know the distinction between the two.
You want your writing to be at its best whether you publish through a publishing house or self-publish. Whether you use lay or lie once in your entire novel or a hundred times, you will be glad to know you are using it correctly! (If you don’t use it at all, your characters must be tired from standing so much!) 😉 Or if you’ve been using other verbs to write around the issue, now you don’t have to.
When it comes time to publish your book, your editor will appreciate the fact that you know the difference. It will save them a lot of time and energy down the road. Showing your editor that you know your stuff will also give you a better relationship with them. You will appear more credible and you will probably be more likely to land future publishing deals.
If by some chance your editor doesn’t catch the mistake, I guarantee you at least one reader will. Knowing the difference between lay and lie, and not having to rely on your editor, will guarantee happy readers. And happy readers convert into fans that will either share your novel with their friends or read anything else you write (or maybe both).