Willie teaches me to lay v. to lie

3 Nov

There are a few things that no matter how many times you tell me, I will never absorb the information: how old my dad is, daylight savings (spring ahead; fall back—what is that?), and lastly, the tenses of to lie v. to lay. Willie has inspired me to take care of that last one. He said he’ll help me figure out a way to remember the tenses. Let’s see if this works!

To Lie—to rest or recline


Simple Present: Willie lies on the couch now.


Simple Past: Willie lay in the shade yesterday.


Past Participle: Willie should have lain under the bed because he thought it was comfortable.

To Lay—to put something down


Simple Present: Willie lays his lobster toy down.


Simple Past: I laid Willie down on his back.


Past Participle: Willie stood next to his red, stuffed toy which he had laid there only moments before.

I think Willie was on to something. I definitely remember the differences better now! Thank you WIllie, I’ll give you a treat 🙂


33 Responses to “Willie teaches me to lay v. to lie”

  1. kasmango 3 June 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    i agree, that’s a tough grammar concept to grasp! Willie’s adorable! and very good with grammar 😉

    • berndavis 3 June 2012 at 8:02 pm #

      hahaha I think Willie would appreciate your kind words 🙂

  2. reflectionsinapuddle 3 June 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Love photos of Willie! Shelties are my favourite. And yes, I often have to consult a dictionary when using lay and lie. The rule just doesn’t seem to stick with me. 🙂

  3. christineevelynvance 3 June 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Oh, this lay, lie, etc. is a tough one! But should Willie not have “lain” under the bed, seeing as it was so comfortable?

    • berndavis 3 June 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      You got me! I’ll fix it thanks!

  4. seedyredjam 3 June 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    This is a great, creative way for visual learners to figure out one of the greatest conundrums of the English language. I only just learned this last year, and still need to look it up from time to time to make sure I’m not making a mistake.

  5. Neil Viswanathan 3 June 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    That’s one smart doggie!

  6. The Scottie Chronicles 4 June 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Oh me. It’s too much for moi. Willie sure is cute!

    Arooo! Stuart

  7. dianeledet 4 June 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Love your creativity!

  8. chuu2venge 4 June 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Dog teaches old man new grammar skills

  9. Little Creek Veterinary Clinic 4 June 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    The lay/lie/laid thing confuses me so much when I’m writing that I’ll often change the entire sentence just to avoid using the word! Cute post! 🙂

    • darcytown 5 June 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      I’m the same way. I go out of my way to change it if in doubt (which I usually am).

  10. Sally 5 June 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    I am laid out with admiration! Nope. I am lied out with admiration. Nope. Hell, I admire your blog!

    • berndavis 6 June 2012 at 8:12 am #

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!

  11. D. Bryant Simmons 5 June 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    I’ve gotta get me a Willie.

  12. Laura 6 June 2012 at 12:29 am #

    I want that dog.

  13. yosefmeda 8 June 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    That’s the cutest dog, seriously. XD

  14. Lydia Street 9 June 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Willie is awesome. And uses such perfect grammar.

  15. Roxy 9 June 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I am usually guilty of this one. I hate to say “lied” unless I mean, “He lied about his whereabouts”.
    However, I read a blog post and it said, “I layed in bed”. I almost cried. Ha

  16. delightsanddisciplines 9 June 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I want to thank Willie for the grammar lesson!! He has made a follower out of me:)

  17. Terribly Sorry 9 June 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    your blog will seriously help me with my english homework. I have struggled with ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ for eternity. btw your dog is adorable 🙂

  18. fossilontherocks 10 June 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Great to finally find a Grammar Nazi blog without going to the trouble of making my own! Glad you like my blog, hopefully there may be some collaboration down the path.

    • berndavis 10 June 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Sure 🙂 let me know what you have in mind

  19. custompastelportraits 10 June 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Thank you for clearing this up and also for the like! Love Willie!

  20. Goddess JR 10 June 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Oh, I love this explanation and Willie too!

  21. Jennifer B. 11 June 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Willie’s adorable! As a journalist, lay vs. lie is a difficult one for me to remember too. I think Willie is an expert at it, though!

  22. GoughPubs 12 June 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    What a great way to illustrate your point! Willie is fabulous — thanks again for sharing.

  23. Kenneth Kelly 15 June 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I used to always get this wrong, but now I’ll just think of Willie and nail it every time.

  24. eojsmada 17 June 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Thanks for this. I’ve always struggled to figure out how to write this.

  25. christiana83 18 June 2012 at 3:59 am #

    This is so helpful! You know what though, I honestly think it sounds weird to say “yesterday I lay on my bed thinking”… It sounds so old fashioned! Also “lain”. Sounds very outdated. I know they are correct, but I believe that the English language is changing, and these may eventually be changed to what most people say…. What do you think?

  26. skyespitfire 18 June 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Thank you very much for visiting my page (and your dog is beautiful) 🙂

  27. 24/7 in France 19 June 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    What a cute dog! I was an English teacher, and trust me, NOONE uses these two verbs correctly!!

  28. WOL 22 June 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    According to my dad, “Hens lay, but people lie.” Oh, such a tempting double entendre is the word “lie” in that sentence. . . .

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