Lay verb doubt


New Member
Hello everybody.

I can't seem to figure out which verb is the correct one in this sentence:

A- He has never imagined that behind her eyes lay something so traumatic.

B- He has never imagined that behind her eyes lied something so traumatic.

Thank you for your help and time!
  • mokas

    New Member
    Precisely. I wrote "lay" but a friend told me it wasn't correct, and that it's "lied." I did some research which did not confirm what he said. That's why I'm asking here. It's "lay" then, for sure, correct?

    Thank you for answering so quickly grassy!

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Welcome to the forum.

    The word you want is "lay".
    Lied is the past form of the verb to lie (to tell untruth).
    But "lie" also means (lie - Dictionary of English):
    to be in a horizontal or flat position, as on a bed or the ground; recline (often fol. by down):​
    and similar meanings. The difference is that the past tense of this meaning of "lie" is "lay", not "lied".

    Quite honestly, this sometimes catches out native speakers.


    English - American South
    In educated usage, A is absolutely the correct choice. Increasingly, though, in ordinary speech the transitive verb "lay/laid/laid" is encroaching on the territory of the intransitive "lie/lay/lain." Maybe it's because the other meaning of the verb "lie" is loaded and people seem instinctively shy of using the word; maybe it's because of the confusing way that "lay" serves as the present tense of the one verb and the past of the other. Regardless, a lot of native speakers increasingly use only "lay/laid/laid."

    It's not sound grammar, and I don't recommend joining in that trend, but it's useful to recognize when someone's using it that way!
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