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What is the difference between “lay” and “lie”?

Which one of the following examples is correct?

  1. Lie down on the bench.

  2. Lay down on the bench.

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marked as duplicate by Andrew Leach, Roaring Fish, Kristina Lopez, J.R., Barrie England Jan 19 '13 at 12:02

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The important distinction is that lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the book down on the table (the book is the direct object).

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There are also some complications when you are dealing with the past tense of "lie" which is "lay" and it shouldn't be mistaken for "lay" in present tense. –  Benyamin Hamidekhoo Jan 19 '13 at 9:10
    
You could also just lay (yourself) down on the sofa. (By the same logic) –  Kris Jan 19 '13 at 11:25
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