• 1- The paper lies before me on the desk.
  • 2- The paper is lied before me on the desk.

What is the difference between these two sentences in using the two forms of the verbs?

Second, when could we use "verbs" in active form after things such as papers or things that can't move?

  • The difference is this: the first sentence is grammatical, the second is not. Use the progressive form (is lying) to make #2 grammatical.
    – Robusto
    Sep 3, 2017 at 19:55
  • Ok, when we could use verbs after things can't move? @Robusto Sep 3, 2017 at 19:58
  • 1
    When there is an outside force. "The paper flew through the air." Presumably due to the wind or if someone threw it.
    – user3169
    Sep 3, 2017 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


In the second pattern, the subject complement would be the past participle of a transitive verb.

Place the paper on the table.

The paper is placed on the table.

Lay transitive the paper on the table.

The past participle of to lay is laid.

The paper is|was laid on the table.

Someone lays present the paper on the desk each morning.

Someone laid past the paper on the desk.

Someone has laid present perfect the paper on the desk.


The paper lies before me on the desk.

The paper is lying before me on the desk.

These forms are correct.

Theoretically you could use a passive ("The desk is lain on by the paper") but this would sound a bit weird.

There are three verbs that are easily confused:

  • To lie (intransitive) To tell a falsehood. (Past: lied, past participle: lied)
  • To lie (intransitive) To recline, or to be positioned. (Past: lay, past participle: lain)
  • To lay (transitive) To put. (Past: laid, past participle: laid)

Hence if you used the verb "lay" instead, you could say:

The paper was laid on the desk.

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