There are a few different ways to use the word "lie."

If a person doesn’t tell the truth, he or she lies.

simplepastpast participle
  • Tim lied to his mother. He said he didn’t break the window, but he did.
  • The salesperson lied to the customer about the warranty on the television.
  • Everyone in the office lied about the cake that Sarah made. They all said it was good, but it was actually awful.
  • Bill told a lie to his wife. (This sentence uses "lie" as a noun.)
  • If you tell enough lies, people will stop believing you. (This sentence also uses "lie" as a noun.)

Another way to use this word as a verb is when a person or a thing is in a horizontal position. It’s also used to describe a location.

simplepastpast participle
  • There’s a man lying on the street. Is he okay?
  • The airport lies just north of the city. (In this sentence, "lie" is similar to the verb "be.")
  • My cat lies around the house all day.
  • The little girl lay motionless, pretending to be asleep.

man in bed

  • The man is lying in bed. (present continuous tense)
  • He lies in bed all day. (present tense)
  • He lay in bed all day yesterday. (past tense)

Note: The words "lie" and "lay" are often confused.

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This page was first published on August 31, 2012. It was updated on July 13, 2015.