A large vase (lays / is laid) in the corner of our front hallway

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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?

Park

Posted 2016-01-11T13:32:12.077

Reputation: 53

Question was closed 2016-01-11T22:08:17.190

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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 – 2016-01-11T13:53:00.370

3Considering 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. – Damkerng T. – 2016-01-11T14:24:51.943

1@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 – 2016-01-11T16:07:45.363

@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! :)

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-01-11T17:04:20.020

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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 – 2016-01-11T17:40:10.523

Modern English users almost always use the verb "lay" when they should really use "lie". It is a current shift of usage that we all need to get used to. I will continue to use "lie" here. Technically "lay" is wrong here, but dictionaries tend to catch up on misuse after it becomes commonplace and finally deem it acceptable. I think that is what is going to happen here. – Octopus – 2016-01-11T20:08:38.473

Answers

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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.

FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica

Posted 2016-01-11T13:32:12.077

Reputation: 52 587

"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 – 2016-01-11T20:10:46.240

@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. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-01-11T21:03:34.197

...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.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-01-11T21:07:06.413