Scientific English as a Foreign Language
Answers to Lesson of May 17, 1999
Lay and Lie

"Lay" and "lie" are frequently confused by native and non-native speakers alike. You lie in bed. But you lay the book on the table. You can equate "lay" with "put" and "lie" with "rest". You rest in bed. You put the book on the table. Germans will find them easier to distinguish because of their concepts of the accusative and dative cases. The accusative case, which indicates motion, corresponds to "lay"; the dative, or immobile case, corresponds to "lie".

Try it!

1. Lay the sample on the sample holder. Then we'll let it lie there overnight.

New physics bumper sticker (written in red)--

If this sticker is blue, you're driving too fast.

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Created May 17, 1999, by Nancy Burnham and Fred Hutson.