Lie vs. Lie & The Past Tense

lie

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There are a few English words that do not only sound alike (homophones) but also look alike when written (homographs). They are completely identical in their infinitive form, yet mean something completely different. The problematic with these words is the different past tense and conjugated forms. Of course, they help to distinguish the words. However, it is so easy to mix them up or use the same past tense for the different meanings.

 

One of these verbs is “to lie” and in this article, we will have a look at it!

 

Read more about homophones.

 

To Lie vs. To Lie

First, let’s have a look at the different meanings of the verb:

  1. not telling the truth
  2. being in a horizontal position.

 

Have a look at them used in a sentence portraying the respective meaning:

  1. Jean lies all the time.
  2. Tony lies on the bed.

 

What About “To Lay“?

Another verb quite similar to the ones above is “to lay“. The meaning of lay is related to one of the definitions of lie. Instead of describing the state of being in a horizontal position, it defines the act of (carefully) putting something down. Consider the following sentence:

  1. I want you to lay the packages down on the table.

 

Conjugation Of “To Lie” & “To Lay

Now, lets contrast the different conjugations of these verb. They differ in form in perfect, past, pluperfect and future perfect. The present as well as the future forms are identical for both meanings of lie.

to lie
→ not telling the truth
to lie
→ being in a horizontal position
to lay
→ putting something down
Present  singular

  • I lie
  • you lie
  • he/she/it lies

plural

  • we lie
  • you lie
  • they lie
singular

  • I lie
  • you lie
  • he/she/it lies

plural

  • we lie
  • you lie
  • they lie
singular

  • I lay
  • you lay
  • he/she/it lays

plural

  • we lay
  • you lay
  • they lay
 Perfect  singular

  • lied
  • you lied
  • he/she/it lied

plural

  • we lied
  • you lied
  • they lied
 singular

  • I have lain
  • you have lain
  • he/she/it has lain

plural

  • we have lain
  • you have lain
  • they have lain
singular

  • I have laid
  • you have laid
  • he/she/it has laid

plural

  • we have laid
  • you have laid
  • they have laid
 Past  singular

  • lied
  • you lied
  • he/she/it lied

plural

  • we lied
  • you lied
  • they lied
  singular

  • lay
  • you lay
  • he/she/it lay

plural

  • we lay
  • you lay
  • they lay
singular

  • I laid
  • you laid
  • he/she/it laid

plural

  • we laid
  • you laid
  • they laid
 Pluperfect   singular

  • lied
  • you lied
  • he/she/it lied

plural

  • we lied
  • you lied
  • they lied
  singular

  • I had lain
  • you had lain
  • he/she/it had lain

plural

  • we had lain
  • you had lain
  • they had lain
singular

  • I had laid
  • you had laid
  • he/she/it had laid

plural

  • we had laid
  • you had laid
  • they had laid
 Future perfect   singular

  • I will lie
  • you lied
  • he/she/it lied

plural

  • we lied
  • you lied
  • they lied
  singular

  • I had lain
  • you had lain
  • he/she/it had lain

plural

  • we had lain
  • you had lain
  • they had lain
singular

  •  I will have laid
  • you have laid
  • he/she/it have laid

plural

  • we have laid
  • you have laid
  • they have laid

 

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