Laying vs. Lying: What’s the Difference between Lying vs. Laying?

The difference between “laying” and “lying” can cause quite a bit of confusion, especially because they are used in roughly the same context. There’s one key difference between them, though, which will help you remember how to use them correctly.

Key Differences: Laying vs. Lying

Both these words are the gerund or present participle form of a verb: laying from to lay and lying from to lie. Lay is pretty straightforward, it means to place something down. Now, lie can mean multiple things, one of them being “an intentionally false statement”. The other meaning is “to be in or assume a horizontal or resting position on a supporting surface” and this where the confusion arises from.

Laying vs. LyingPin

Laying vs. Lying: Key Takeaways

  • Use “laying” for placing objects down and “lying” for reclining without an object.
  • The words are conjugated differently, so distinguishing tenses is necessary for correct usage.

Laying vs. Lying: the Definition and Usage

What Does “Laying” Mean?

“Laying” is the present participle or gerund form of the verb “lay,” which means to put or place something down in a flat position, and it requires a direct object. It is often used to describe an ongoing action or to construct the present continuous tense.

You use laying when you talk about putting something down.


  • My favorite chicken isn’t here because it’s laying eggs at the moment.
  • They are laying new sewers along the road.
  • They were busy laying the drains for the new houses.

Learn more about the difference between Lay vs. Lie.

What Does “Lying” Mean?

“Lying” is the present participle of the verb “lie,” which has two main definitions depending on the context:

  • To recline or rest in a horizontal position: In this sense, “lying” does not take a direct object. It refers to the act of someone or something resting or being in a flat position, typically on a surface.Example: “He is lying on the bed.”
  • To intentionally make a false statement: In this context, “lying” means to tell an untruth or to deceive. It is used to describe the action of someone who is not being honest.Example: “She is lying about where she was last night.”

Tips to Remember the Difference

  • “Laying” requires an object; you lay something down. “Lying,” when referring to reclining, does not take an object; you just lie down.
  • Think of “laying” as actively placing something somewhere, whereas “lying” is more passive, as in just being in a position.
  • Remember that “lying” can also mean not telling the truth, which is a completely different meaning from “laying.”
  • Lay it down; lie yourself down: You lay an object down, but you lie yourself down (when you’re not using an object).

Laying vs. Lying Examples

Examples of “Laying”

  • The construction workers are laying the foundation for the new school building.
  • She spends her afternoons laying out in the sun to get a tan.
  • We watched the artist laying down strokes of paint on the canvas.
  • The gardener was laying mulch around the flower beds to protect them.
  • The cable company is laying new fiber-optic lines throughout the neighborhood.
  • They were laying the table with fine china for the dinner party.

Examples of “Lying”

  • The children were caught lying about eating the cookies before dinner.
  • He found his keys lying on the kitchen counter where he had left them.
  • The book was lying open on her lap, but she was fast asleep.
  • There’s a pair of shoes lying by the front door; please put them away.
  • After the storm, there were branches lying all over the road.
  • The cat was lying in the sun, completely relaxed and content.

Laying vs. Lying: Practice and Exercise

Fill in the Blank – “Laying” vs. “Lying”

Complete the sentences below with the correct word: “laying” or “lying.”

  1. The hen is _______ eggs in the coop.
  2. I was _______ on the couch when you called.
  3. Are you _______ the carpet in the living room today?
  4. She caught her toddler _______ on the floor, pretending to sleep.
  5. The books are _______ on the table where you left them.
  6. The workers are _______ bricks for the new walkway.

Answers with Explanations:

  1. laying
    • “Laying” is the present participle of “lay,” which means to put or place something down. The hen is in the act of placing eggs.
  2. lying
    • “Lying” is the present participle of “lie,” which means to recline or be in a horizontal position. The person was in a reclined position on the couch.
  3. laying
    • “Laying” refers to the act of placing or putting down something, in this case, the carpet.
  4. lying
    • “Lying” is used here to indicate that the toddler is in a reclined position on the floor.
  5. lying
    • “Lying” is the present participle of “lie,” indicating that the books are in a resting position on the table.
  6. laying
    • “Laying” is the present participle of “lay,” indicating that the workers are in the process of placing bricks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ‘laying’ and ‘lying’?

  • Laying requires a direct object, meaning you are placing something down. Example: You are laying the book on the table.
  • Lying does not require a direct object and refers to the act of reclining. Example: You are lying on the couch.

How do I use ‘lay’ and ‘lie’ in the past tense?

  • For the verb lay, the past tense is laid. Example: You laid the plates on the table yesterday.
  • The verb lie becomes lay in the past tense. Example: You lay in bed until noon last Saturday.

What are the past participle forms of ‘lay’ and ‘lie’?

  • Lay becomes laid as a past participle. Example: You have laid your keys on the dresser.
  • Lie becomes lain as a past participle. Example: You have lain on that sofa many times.