The Grammar Girl starts by differentiating the present tense (happening now):
-Lie does not require a direct object
-Lay requires a direct object
What the heck is direct object? I majored in Kinesiology, ask me origin, insertion and action of any muscle and I’ll tell you (or I’ll at least pretend that I know), but start talking all grammarish (yep, I made that word up), and you’ll lose me every time.
OK, let’s just call a direct object, a recipient of an action (something’s happenin’ to it). Here’s Grammar Girl’s examples:
You lie down on the sofa. (It’s just you, no other thing is goin’ down)
You lay down a book. (The book’s got a little somethin’ somethin’ goin’ on, somebody’s setting it down. The book is the direct object. Sometimes my kids make me feel like a direct object.
OK, past tense, as in it already happened-we still have in mind the need for a direct object.
-Lie turns into Lay
“Shelly lies down on the sofa” turns into “Shelly lay down on the sofa” (my kids just jump all over my sofa)
-Lay turn into Laid
“Bobby lay down a book on the table” turns into “Bobby laid down a book on the table.” (It was probably Diary of a Wimpy Kid-seriously, those books are hilarious. #cheesetouch
What the heck does that mean? Dr. Google says its “something that happened in the past and is still happening now,” like dirty politicians.
-Lie-turned into Lay-now it turns into Lain
Now, “Shelly has lain on the sofa for days”
-Lay-turned into Laid-and it stays Laid (I have no idea why English is so hard to learn)
Now, “Bobby has laid a book on the table.”
Clear as mud, right. From what I can tell, we still have to look at the direct object (there’s that grammarish word again) and now have and has enter the picture, just chillin’ out with lain and laid.
If nothing I’ve said here makes sense, head over to Grammar Girl for her “Quick and Dirty Grammar Tricks” and download a copy of the chart I attached here Grammar Girl.
I wanted to make some Hawaii/lei joke here, but I figure one probably already ran through your head, so I’ll let that count.
Now I’m going to go lie down in bed. Good night. (No direct object)