Difference Between Lying and Laying (With Table)

The two words are often confused with each other and used interchangeably and it has created confusion over the years. Both have similar meanings but their area of usage differs along with how they are pronounced. Lying and laying are generally used to refer to placing something flat on a surface.

Lying vs Laying

The main difference between lying and laying is that lying is used to refer to a person who is in a flat position on a surface whereas laying is used to refer generally to things, animals or anything that has been placed flat on a surface by a third object.

Lying is used to refer to a situation where an object by itself falls or places itself on a flat surface. It is generally used for anything that is moving on its own. It is an intransitive verb which means it does not require an object to provide meaning to the sentence it is used in. 

Laying is used to define an object that is placed on a flat surface or placed upon by the use of external force. It is a transitive verb which means it requires an object in a sentence to be present for making sense. It means that a person or a thing has to be placed. 

Comparison Table Between Lying and Laying

Parameters of ComparisonLying Laying
MeaningIt is used to define an object that places itself on a flat surface or places themselves on their own.It is used to define an object that is placed on a flat surface by a third person 
Past Tense The past tense is lay which creates a lot of confusion.The past tense is laid and it has been a reason for chaos. 
Kind of verbIt is an intransitive verb which means it does not require an object.It is a transitive verb which means it requires an object to ac upon.
How to rememberThe word lying has an emphasis on L and therefore is in conjugation with recline.The word laying has an emphasis on A and therefore goes with its definition to place.
ExamplesThe fat cat is lying on the sofa. As soon as she comes home, she likes lying down on the sofa.The bird is laying eggs. She is laying her bag on the floor.

What is Lying?

According to the dictionary, lying means to place yourself flat onto some surface. It is generally done by itself and does not require a third person to do so. It is a verb and is generally categorised under an intransitive verb. Examples:- 

  • I am lying on the floor. 
  • Rita likes lying on the sofa.

Intransitive Verb:- 

A verb is a word that describes any action that has been done physically or mentally directly or indirectly. By definition, intransitive verbs are those which do not require an object to act upon. If they are used in a sentence they can give a meaning without the person specifying on which the person has laid on.

Example:-

  • John likes lying after a hectic day. 

The word lying can be used in many different forms. The most confusing form of the word is the past tense. The past tense is lay which has often created chaos for laying. Other forms of lying that are used commonly are 

  • Lie
  • Lay
  • Lain
  • Have lain

There is an easy trick to remember the meaning of lying that is the word stresses on the syllable “L” which is in conjugation with the stress syllable of its meaning that is recline which means to push yourself on a flat surface.

What is Laying?

According to the dictionary, laying means to push someone or something on the floor. It requires a third subject to do the activity and the subject always requires an object. It is an action verb and is sub-categorised under a transitive verb. Example:- 

  • The hen is laying eggs. 
  • After coming from school, she does not like laying her school items on the floor. 

Transitive Verb:-

An action verb is a verb that describes any kind of activity done by a subject whether it is physical or mental. With further reference, transitive verbs are those action verbs that require an object to act upon. It means that the sentences seem incomplete till the subject does not have an object to act upon. For example, in the above sentences, the sentences would be incomplete if no object is floor and eggs. 

Many forms of verbs can be used like past, present, future, etc. Some forms which can be used are as follows:-

  • Laid
  • Lay
  • Been laid 
  • Have laid 

The word is also in conjugation which it’s meaning and it helps in remembering it easily. The word’s stress syllable is ‘A’ which resembles the stress syllable in its meaning which is to place. 

Main Differences Between Lying and Laying

  1. The meaning of the word lying is to place oneself on a flat surface without the help of others while laying means to place something on a flat surface by a third person. 
  2. The confusion has been very big about the past tense of lying and laying. The past tense is lay which creates a lot of confusion and the past tense of laying is laid.
  3. Lying is an intransitive verb that means it does not require an object for giving meaning to a sentence whereas laying is a transitive verb that always requires an object to act upon. 
  4. The meaning of both the words goes in conjugation with the stress syllable of the word. The stressed syllable of lying is L and the meaning is to recline and laying is A and the meaning is to place. 
  5. The examples of the following words are:
  • Lying:- 
  • The fat cat is lying on the sofa.
  • As soon as she comes home, she likes lying down on the sofa.
  • Laying:-
  • The bird is laying eggs.
  • She is laying her bag on the floor.

Conclusion

The two words have their importance and their usage differs according to the situation. Lying is used to refer to a person who places down themselves on a surface whereas laying is used to refer to something or someone who is placed down by a third person on a flat surface. Lying is an intransitive verb that does not require an object whereas laying is a transitive verb that requires an object for acting upon. There are different forms of lying like lay, been lain, have lain, etc. whereas the forms of laying are laid, been laid, have laid, etc.

References 

  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/lawsodi20&section=5 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119360699 
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