There are many different ways to use the word "lay." Perhaps the most common use is similar to the verb "put."

  • You can lay those boxes on the floor.
  • You can put those boxes on the floor.
  • We laid some carpet in the living room.
  • We put some carpet in the living room.
simplepastpast participle

You need to use an object after this verb because it’s transitive (a verb that requires an object).

  • I laid my cards on the table. The word "cards" is an object.
  • Joe has laid out some plans for his new project. The word "plans" is an object.

Here are some other examples for the verb "lay."

  • A chicken lays eggs.
  • A construction worker lays bricks.
  • You can lay a bet if you like to gamble.
  • Plans are laid when thinking about the future.
  • Responsibilities are laid on our political leaders.
  • People lay their hands on things and on other people.
  • I can’t wait to lay my hands on the new iPhone.
  • A table is laid for dinner. When you put down the plates, the forks, the knives, etc., you are laying the table.


He’s laying some bricks.

He’s a bricklayer.

There are few expressions that use the word "lay."

  • He has to lay his cards on the table. (He has to prove that he has something or be honest about something.)
  • Lay it on me. (Tell me what you want to say.)

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

meaningsimplepastpast participle
to put down
to recline
to be false

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This page was first published on September 1, 2012. It was updated on April 22, 2016.