Do sleeping dogs lie or lay?
Consider this letter to the authors from Mary Dillon, of Cumberland Center, Maine: “My friend Beth is a high-school English teacher and lives with her friend Sam, an intelligent Golden Retriever. One day, Beth’s mother was riding in the backseat of the car with Sam, who insisted on leaning on Mother. Mother told Sam to ‘lay down and behave.’ No action. Mother repeated, ‘Lay down, Sam.’ Still no action. Beth turned and commanded, ‘Lie down, Sam, ‘and down he went. He is, after all, the companion of an English teacher.”
The clerk saw the customer lay the money on the counter.
The customer laid the money on the counter.
The hen is laying two eggs daily.
The hen had laid two eggs daily for a month.
To lie means “to repose.” Lie is intransitive, which means it does not take an object. It is often used with down.
Principal parts of to lie are lie (present). Lay (past), lying (present participle), and lain (past participle). The following sentences are correct:
I often lie down for a nap after lunch.
Yesterday, I lay in bed for two hours after lunch.
I was lying down when the telephone call came.
I had lain there for only a few minutes when the phone rang.
SLEEPING DOGS DON’T LAY: Practical advice for the grammatically challenged; Richard Lederer and Richard Dowis; Martin’s Press, New York ,U.S.A. (1999)
Illustrated by GTG