I want to describe a situation in which a man is in a sleeping position (he is actually not asleep) and will remain in this situation forever (it's a sculpture!). I mean, a sculpture in a sleeping position. How should I describe this? (please see this photo)

He has lain on the ground.

He is lying down on the ground.

He has laid down on the ground.

  • 2
    The first word came to my mind: reclining. (You can try searching for images with this keyword: reclining statue.) Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 7:31
  • 1
    I recalled the word recumbent. I'm not sure, but "lying" seems to be too horizontal for his position. He is half-sitting, IMHO. Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


You are using the Present Perfect in your first sentence, but you'd need a duration phrase to make it more natural for this context:

He has lain on the ground for centuries.

Without that duration phrase, the reader might think that "at some period in his life he has lain on the ground, but now he's quite an active guy". This would be unfitting for a statue.

In the second sentence, I'd delete down:

He is lying on the ground.

With down, it might be understood that he is in the process of lying down: he hasn't yet settled in his position.

The third sentence is unfit because laid is the past-tense form of lay, not of lie. "Lay" means to "place something somewhere". It's a transitive verb. That's how we usually use "lay":

He has laid the flowers on the ground.

It's quite hard not to get tangled in the diverse forms of "lay" and "lie". Here's a related question:

The ELU StackExchange even has a special tag to mark questions related to the usage of lay and lie.

Here's a handy table with forms of lie and lay:

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(from "Lie Lay Practice Worksheet", Freeology.com, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license)

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