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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #114518: Lie/ Lay/ Lie
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Frequent mistakes | Find the word [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Placement test beginners: Check your spelling - Past simple or present perfect - Although / in spite of / despite - Differences between Like and As - Again/ back - FOR and its use - Do or Make? - Bill, tip, fare, fine, fee
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    Lie/ Lay/ Lie



    Among what is called "deceiving" verbs, which you mix up again and again, To LIE and To LAY are really the most difficult ones to distinguish and use correctly: real traitors to deceive you...


     Infinitive   Preterite 



     3rd pers.




     To lie I lied   lied  He lies  lying= speak falsely (regular verb) 
     To lie I lay   lain He lies  lying= be in a horizontal position
     To lay  I laid   laid He lays   laying = place in a horizontal position 


    First, there are  two verbs : "LIE" ; their infinitive forms are similar, but one is regular, whereas the other one is irregular !

    Besides, the preterite of the irregular verb (LAY) happens to be similar to the infinitive of another irregular verb (To LAY),  which is also used very often. I know many advanced students who have to make a little pause to think before using them when speaking! Let's try to see more clearly the differences between those three verbs.



    1)  To LIE, LIED, LIED to someone (regular verb) = to speak falsely to someone.

     To tell a lie * = a falsehood  To tell the truth * = opposed to"lies"!
     A lie detector = polygraph to detect the truth  A liar = person who lies
     To lie by omission
     = to omit to say an important truth 
     A white lie = a little lie
     To lie through one's teeth  = to lie grossly  A little white lie
     = an unimportant lie 


    * BEWARE of articles : to tell a lie = indefinite article= there are multitudes of lies BUT To tell the truth = definite one because there's only one truth!





    2) To LIE, LAY, LAIN= to be resting in a horizontal position.

     To lie = to rest in a horizontal position   To lie down = to rest on a bed
     To lie in = to stay in bed late  To lie in wait = to be hidden and wait
     To lie still  = not to move.  To be lying
     = to be buried
     Let this matter lie!
     = leave the problem alone  The problem lies in the fact ... = the problem is here ...



                  To lie awake  


    3) To LAY, LAID, LAID = put in a flat position, produce eggs.

     To lay an egg = to produce eggs  To lay the table = set plates, glasses...
     To lay emphasis on  = to put the stress on   To lay the blame on  = accuse someone of
     To lay hands on = to find and keep...  To lay it on thick = to exaggerate in words  
     A lay-by = a rest area  To lay down weapons 
     = to surrender
     To lay out = display, spread out 
     To lay off = to dismiss an employee


        A lay-by = a rest area   


    Here you are! That's quite easy,   but if you want to be too fast, you may be easily mistaken. Good luck for the test!

    Take the time to think for a second... Then, it will become automatic!


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    1. ' Lucy! Don't forget to the table while I'm busy making the sauce you like so much! Dinner's ready in five minutes!

    2. 'Yes, as tomorrow is Sunday, you may have a long if you're really tired...'

    3. Uncle Norman was when his company was relocated in Germany.

    4. When Patrick heard that he could take whatever he wanted, he immediately his hand on the latest electronic device he had ever seen.

    5. She didn't realize she had been for so long when the telephone startled her.

    6. She had fainted and for ten minutes at least. When the paramedics arrived, she was feeling better already.

    7. Don't be a ! No need to cover for her... Just say what you have heard!

    8. You perfectly know that the truth somewhere in the middle of the two sides of the story.

    9. Really, I don't like the of your document... I think the motto should be written in red bold letters above the picture...

    10. I don't know whether a can be deceived... To do so, you must have a huge control over your emotions...


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