Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/142

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A Desk-Book of

last two. Compare first and two first.

lay, lie: In discriminating the uses of these words the Standard Dictionary says: Lay, vt., "to put down," "to cause to lie down," is a causal derivative of lie, vi., "to rest." The principal parts of the two verbs are:


lay, vt.
lie, vi.



Past Participle.


The identity of the present tense of lay, vt., with the imperfect tense of lie, vi., has led to the frequent confounding of the two in their literary usage. Lay (in the present tense) being transitive, is always followed by an object; lie, being intransitive, never has an object. Lay, in "I lay upon thee no other burden," is the present tense of lay, vt., having as its object burden; in "I lay under the sycamore-tree in the cool shade," lay is the imperfect tense of lie, vi., having no object; laid, in "I laid the book on the table," is the imperfect tense of lay, vt., having as its object book. The presence or absence of an object, and the character of the verb as transitive or intransitive, may be decided by asking the question "Lay [or laid] what?" The past participles of the two verbs (laid and lain) are also frequently confounded. Laid in tense-combinations is to be followed by a object always; lain, never; as, "He has laid (not lain) the book on the table"; "He has lain (not laid) long in the grave."