I wrote a post last night about the difference between LIE and LAY and proofread it meticulously, looking for typos. Lesson to self: looking for typos isn’t enough; I need to look at the content as well. Two people wrote to me pointing out that my definitions were reversed, although my examples were correct. Mea maxima culpa! Here is the correct information:
Many people use these two words incorrectly.
LIE means to rest or recline.
LAY means to put or place.
When you go to the beach, you LAY your towel on the sand and then LIE on the towel.
Much of the confusion arises because the past tense of LIE is LAY: Yesterday I LAY down after work. For the present tense (used for something we do regularly, habitually) we say, I always LIE down after work. And for something you have done in the past and continue to do now, we use the present participle (the verb along with HAS, HAD or HAVE): I always HAVE LAIN down after work. You hate that word, LAIN, don’t you? But it’s correct.
As for LAY, I always LAY the mail on the kitchen table. Yesterday I LAID it there. I always HAVE LAID it on that table.