Lay or Lie

Which is correct: Lay or Lie? A person was laid on the table or a person was lain on the table.

People are often perplexed about this group of words. The important thing to remember is that there are two quite separate verbs involved. Lay is the present tense of a verb whose basic meaning is place something in a more or less horizontal position, with the past tense and participle laid. Lay is also the past tense of the verb lie. While lain is the past participle. So the proper use is:


• Please lay it on the floor (present tense)

• She laid the book on the desk (past tense)

• They had laid it on the floor (past participle)


• Go and lie down (present tense)

• She went and lay down (past tense)

• The body had lain in the field for some time (past participle)

And in the example it must be : A person was laid on the table.

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