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A large vase lays in the corner of our front hallway.

A large vase is laid in the corner of our front hallway.

Which is the right sentence? Should I use lays or is laid?

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    Hi, Park - did you look up the definition of "lay"? It means "to put or set down in place". Is the vase putting something else in place?
    – stangdon
    Jan 11, 2016 at 13:53
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    Considering that an answer below has gotten three downvotes so far, I think maybe this lays or is laid is not a simple matter that just looking it up in dictionaries can solve the problem. Please do not close this question on that ground. Jan 11, 2016 at 14:24
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    @DamkerngT. - No question that lie/lay/lain/laid are very confusing. I do think that "lay is transitive" is one of the simpler parts of the whole ball of wax, though. It would help if the original poster had included more context as to exactly what part of it was confusing him.
    – stangdon
    Jan 11, 2016 at 16:07
  • @stangdon: I just had to upvote your comment! I have actually encountered the whole ball of wax before (albeit rarely), but seeing it here prompted me to look up the origin. If I learn one fascinating little snippet like that every day for the rest of my life, I shall be more than content! :) Jan 11, 2016 at 17:04
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    @FumbleFingers - Glad you enjoyed it! I caution you, though, that the "land lottery" explanation is considered extremely doubtful by many people.
    – stangdon
    Jan 11, 2016 at 17:40

1 Answer 1

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Neither of OP's constructions are particularly likely. The normal sense of to lay is (transitive) to put something down carefully in a flat position.

Thus (intransitive) It lays in the corner is generally considered nonstandard / uneducated - but to lay / to lie are probably the most awkward pair of irregular verbs in English, so it's a fairly common error.

OP's alternative is laid in the corner is a present perfect passive usage meaning is placed in the corner [by someone unspecified]. It's grammatically valid, but in practice is an unlikely construction that would only normally occur when describing the action as it happens.

Even the "correct" version It lies in the corner doesn't really work with something like a vase (which would normally be thought of as being "upright" rather than "in a horizontal position". So it should be...

A large vase stands in the corner of our front hallway

Present continuous It is standing in the corner and present perfect It is stood in the corner are also technically valid, but idiomatically unlikely in OP's context.


Here is one of many webpages discussing lay/lie usage, but the take-home message from my answer is neither of these verbs are appropriate for OP's context.

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  • "Nonstandard/uneducated", yet used by all major media outlets in the United States. I agree that it is wrong. This is the correct answer.
    – Octopus
    Jan 11, 2016 at 20:10
  • @Octopus: I'm not too sure about "used by all major media outlets in the US". My link saying it's a "fairly common error" is to 317 instances of He lays on the bed, which has to be evaluated in the context of almost 4000 instances of He lies on the bed. So although one might say "uneducated" is a subjective assessment, I think it's reasonable to say "nonstandard" is a literal, objective designation. Jan 11, 2016 at 21:03
  • ...also note the far more conclusive present continuous He is laying on the bed with just 9 hits, compared to 3680 for the "correct" form He is lying on the bed. Jan 11, 2016 at 21:07

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