How "lie" in present simple becomes "lying" in present continuous?

Where the letter y in the word 'lying' did come from, while in the infinitive form it's 'lie'?

My friend came across this text-book which practices 'present continuous tense' and I really don't know how to explain it.

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1 Answer 1


All verbs in current 'standard' English that end in '-ie' have their present continuous ending in '-ying.

lie ----> lying

die ----> dying

tie ----> tying

vie ----> vying

Don't expect English spelling to make sense - it doesn't. To an English native 'Lieing' etc. just doesn't look right.

  • Yes, but why does ie becomes y in a verb + ing form?
    – user29952
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:00
  • @user070221 The answer given explains that very thing. Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:17
  • @JasonBassford - it explains the spelling rule, not its origin.
    – user29952
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:22
  • @user070221 As the last sentence states, "don't expect English spelling to make sense—it doesn't." (The conjugation of to be is another example. Was and am look nothing like be, yet that's what we use . . .) Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:27
  • 1
    @JasonBassford - this is just a dismissive answer. The fact that you don’t know the origin of a spelling, doesn’t mean that there is no origin. This might be a starting point - etymonline.com/word/-ie#etymonline_v_34648
    – user29952
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:29

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