Lying around and laying around

They leave their clothes lying around.
Don’t leave stuff laying around.
I wonder if “lying around” and “laying around” are the same?
Thank you!!

In this context, ‘lying around’ is, according to the way I was taught English, correct. ‘Laying around’ is incorrect. The two verbs ‘to lie’ and ‘to lay’ are frequently misused, more often by native speakers, unfortunately. ‘To lay’ is a transitive verb. e.g. The hen is laying an egg. ‘To lie’ is intransitive. e.g. They leave their clothes lying around. The number of times I have been told in the gym to lay on the mat!!! I have to be laying something on the mat, even my own body. So I can correctly be asked to lay myself down on the mat, or to lie on the mat. I can’t think of a use for ‘laying around’ in a sentence. Someone else my be able to come up with something.

As English officially now uses a descriptive approach to describe correct language use, rather than a prescriptive approach, the use of ‘laying’ in your example is now considered by many people correct. I’m showing my age! What do other LingQers think about the use of ‘lay’ or ‘laying’ in this context?

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Lilyyang will end up knowing more English than many English speakers, myself included. I was never taught the difference between these two words and just try to avoid them, as in, “Don’t leave stuff sitting round.”


The subtitle is incorrect, I believe. It should be “Don’t leave stuff lying around.”

Gingko58’s distinction is correct.

I think that most native speakers would not be able to tell you the difference. Although, some would say that “Don’t leave stuff laying around” just sounds incorrect but would not know why.

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I agree with Ginkgo, the correct term is “lying around”, but a bird would “lay an egg”. The sentence “don’t leave stuff laying around” just sounds wrong.

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Just because a lot of native speakers incorrectly use a word, doesn’t mean that others should repeat the mistake. To lie (intransitive verb) means the subject is in a horizontal position. The cat is lying on the pillow. The dog is lying on the floor. Lie down and rest. One should tell a dog, “lie (down)” on the mat." Don’t leave your things lying around. The workers left their tools lying on the ground. The girl is lying on the sand.

To lay is to place something on something else. The subject places a named object in a horizontal position. As a transitive verb, it must be followed by a named object I am laying the dress on the bed. Lay the glass carefully on the table. The dog lays its head on the girl’s knee. He is laying his report on top of the pile. The workers are laying tile in the bathroom.


Crystal clear. Thanks a lot!