I always struggle with lay and lie in a sentence. It’s tragic, really. So I think of the proverb, “Let sleeping dogs lie”, and it doesn’t help any.
Yes, today we look at grammar. What is the rule for lay versus lie? We know that telling an untruth is a lie, but what about when we put our heads on our pillows? Or the dog does the same? Or a tool is left on the ground? HOW CAN WE KNOW?
According to Grammar Girl, it depends on whether or not there’s a direct object following the word.
Lay the treat on the floor and nobody gets hurt, see?
Lay is followed by the object treat.
I’m going to lie down now, since mama won’t give me any of her sandwich.
The object comes before lie, not following. And all of this is in the present tense. Oh my dog – this is making my brain hurt. I have to find an easier way to remember this.
According to the Department of Agricultural Communication (Yes! There is such a thing! Who knew?!?), it’s as simple as placing versus reclining. If I’m placing something, it’s lay.
I’m just going to lay(place) this treat right here for later. Don’t touch it.
If I’m reclining, it’s lie.
Chewy lied about not taking the treat.
Wait, that’s not right. That’s an untruth. A very bad untruth, Chewy. Stay off the table and stop taking treats without permission. Let’s try again.
If I just lie (recline) here on the floor, maybe mama will think I’m being a good dog and give me a treat.
Because I seriously suck at grammar, I’m not going to go into the various forms of lay and lie for different tenses. But I will say that Let sleeping dogs lie is accurate, with lie not being followed by a direct object. One could easily say:
Let sleeping dogs recline.
One could not so easily say:
Let sleeping dogs place.
The meaning is entirely different.
I’m sure most of you already know this rule. My apologies for going over it like this. I really just wanted to use the photo of my sleeping Chewy at the top. He’s the cutest little dog ever. Let sleeping dogs lie is also a cool proverb.
Now! Go out and get your dog some Jones Natural Chews! I’ve subconsciously placed (lay, right?) the desire to do this while you’ve been reading this post. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Until I write again …