Grab your sunscreen, your books, your blanket–and the correct lie/lay verb and catch some rays on the Hub Lawn.
But what is correct? Should you say, “I’m going to lay out in the sun,” or “I’m laying out”?
Or should you say, “I’m going to lie out in the sun,” or “I’m lying out today”?
I bring this up because recently it was a discussion in my house. Recall to lay means to put or place, and to lie means to rest or recline. Therefore the correct expression, although not used often, is “I’m going to lie out in the sun,” or “I’m lying out today.” According to the youngest family member in my household, “everyone says ‘I’m laying out,'” and to say otherwise, “sounds stupid.”
I won’t argue that this verb causes a lot of confusion. Perhaps it’s because the present tense of to lay is the same as the past tense of to lie. Here’s a table with the correct forms of the verb.
Verb Present Past Present Participle Past Participle
to lay lay laid laying laid
to lie lie lay lying lain
The substitution method is the best way to select the correct verb when choosing between lie/lay. If you mean to put or to place, use lay. If you mean to rest or to recline, use lie. If you’re good with direct objects, know that to lay requires an object to complete the meaning and to lie does not require one. If you heard someone say, “she don’t know nothing,” you would recognize it as being incorrect. To the educated ear saying, “I’m laying out today,” sounds just as bad as “she don’t know nothing.”