I was studying english and saw this sentence and i could not decide which of them would be better to use? (I am not a native just student)

Mesopotamia was suitable for ancient merchants, but the dangerous passages that … between the towns ... the pillage of many cowboys.

Options were like: lying/have meant - lie/meant - laid/would mean - lay/were meant - are lying/have meant


1 Answer 1


Lie is something you do to yourself, lay is what you do to other people or objects. "I'm going to lie down now." "The baby is tired, I should lay him down."

  • 1
    Right. Lie meaning 'recline' is intransitive, whereas lay is the causative of lie (it means 'cause to lie'), and causatives are always transitive. This gets confusing because the past tense of lie is lay (the principal parts are lie, lay, lain), like its causative, which is a regular verb, with -d past tense and participle (lay, laid, laid). And also by the fact that there's another, regular, verb lie meaning 'tell an untruth'. Here's a diagram of how it works inside. Nov 14, 2018 at 19:39
  • But for many speakers, lie and lay have mostly merged.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 15, 2018 at 0:08