Lie Vs Lay and Raise Vs Rise

Of the many confusable words we encounter in English, two of the most common pairs are lay vs lie and raise vs rise.

Lay Vs Lie

Both lay and lie mean to settle or recline horizontally, but one is transitive and the other is intransitive. Transitive verbs are used with direct objects, while intransitive verbs are not.

A direct object is one that an action is done to. The word ‘lay’ is transitive; it is done to something. ‘Lie’ is intransitive, and therefore done by something or someone but not to an object. For example:

“I lie down.”
“I lay the bag down.”

This distinction becomes more complicated once past tense is introduced: the past tense for ‘lie’ is ‘lay.’ For example, “Yesterday she lay down.”

The past tense for ‘lay’ (transitive) is ‘laid:’
“She laid her bag on the table yesterday.”

As past participles, or past tense verbs that come after the verb “to have,” ‘lie’ becomes ‘lain’ and ‘lay’ becomes ‘laid.’ For example:

“I have lain on the bed before.”
“I have laid it on the bed before.”

Raise vs Rise

The difference between these two words is similar to that between ‘lay’ and ‘lie.’ ‘Raise’ is transitive, while ‘rise’ is intransitive.

“I raise my hand.”
“I rise at dawn”

In the past tense and past participle form, ‘raise’ becomes ‘raised’. ‘Rise’ is ‘rose’ in the past tense and ‘risen’ in the past participle usage.

“I (rose/have risen) early.”
“I (raised/have raised) my hand.”