Lying Around Vs. Laying Around: Difference Explained (+14 EXAMPLES)

“Laying around” and “lying around” sound like they mean the same thing. And their meanings are similar. But, there are some subtle differences. In the real world, these two are used interchangeably. But in reality, we need to be careful to get it correct.

Today, we’ll look at the differences between “lying around” and “laying around”.

Lying around or laying around: Which is correct?

It depends.

“Lying around” is something that you do. Whereas “laying around” is a state in which you leave other things.

I have been “lying around” all day. But my cups have been “laying around” all day.

We lie ourselves down, but we lay other things down.

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Lay vs lie

To fully understand the difference between “lying around” and “laying around”, we first need to look at the difference between lay and lie.

Both of these words are related to placing something down. To help make this point clear, let’s look at a chicken.

When she lays her eggs, the first thing she will need to do is lie down. Once she has done this, she will be able to lay her eggs.

Notice how SHE had to lie down? But she LAY her eggs?

At least in the present tense, lie down is something you do to yourself. Lay down is something you do to other things.

You may also like: Is It More Correct To Say “Lay Ahead” Or “Lie Ahead”?

Lying down in the past is “lay down”

Now, let’s throw a spanner in the works.

The past tense of “lie” is “lay”. If I’m talking about “lying” in the past, I would say “lay”. So, “he lay down last night and didn’t wake up” is grammatically correct. The past tense changes the rules ever so slightly.

The past tense for “lay” is “laid”.

If I wanted to talk about something that you no longer need to lay, because it has already been done, I would say “laid”.

“She laid down the red carpet for me last night”.

Lying down in the past participle is lain down

As well as the past tense, we also have what is known as the “past participle”. Some would say that “past participle” is more of a verb form than a tense, but even among scholars, that is debated.

The past participle of “lie” is “lain”. Therefore, I would say “He was lain on his bed last night”.

The past participle of “lay” is “laid”. “She laid down the red carpet for me last night”. You might have noticed that for “lay” the past tense and past participle are the same.

You could also use “lain” and “laid” as adjectives to describe a noun. I might call a man who lain on his bed a “lain-on-his-bed man”. I might call an egg which has been laid a “laid egg”.

It doesn’t matter if you get “lying down” and “laying down” mixed up

With all these new rules I’m introducing to you, I’m sure there will be at least one of you who is wondering “does this really matter?”.

And to tell you the truth most of the time, the answer is “no”. Language isn’t here for us to impress scholars or our English teachers. Language is here to enable us to communicate better with other people.

Even if you don’t always follow the rules to the letter, all that matters is that the person talking to you knows what you’re talking about.

8 examples of “lying around”

“Your need to stop lying around, get off your backside and get a job”

“The problem is that too many people are just lying around. There are jobs but nobody wants to take them. People want to lie around and be lazy”

“There’s nothing wrong with lying around sometimes. If you work hard, then there will be times that you need a break”

“I walked in, and he was just lying around. It’s better than him cheating, but I didn’t want to marry the kind of guy who would be lying around when I get back home from work”

“You’ve been lying around all day. I know you’re depressed, but lying around isn’t going to get you anywhere in this world”

“There are several benefits of lying around. Not only can it help your mental health, but too much exercise can be damaging as it might lead to heart problems”

“My dog has been lying around all day. As soon as I got back from work, she was super happy to see me. And that is why dogs are better than people”

“I have no plans for tomorrow. I will be lying around all day, and I have no intention of doing anything productive”.

6 examples of “laying around”

“No wonder you get sick all the time! If you leave your cups laying around like this, bacteria will multiply, and the yucky spores will get into your body. Want to stop being sick? Stop leaving cups laying around!”

“I went to the park, and there were several coke cans laying around. Such a shame because this park used to be a great place to go to unwind. But litterbugs are ruining it for everyone”

“There were all sorts of things laying around when I came back home. I can’t leave my husband alone for a single week without him making a mess out of the flat!”

“Well, if you’re gonna leave those kinds of things just laying around, you have to accept that people can see them. I don’t that you’re embarrassed I found them, don’t leave it laying around, and I won’t find it”

“Batman once left the batmobile laying around in the middle of Gotham, it didn’t take long before the Joker was able to steal it. Thankfully, Alfred was there to help. But remember, don’t leave a batmobile laying around in the middle of Gotham”.

“If you’re gonna leave your dog’s poop just laying around, you can’t complain that you then tread in it all the time”


And now you know that whether you should use “lying around” or “laying around” really depends on what you’re talking about.

If you’re talking about what a person is doing, they are “lying around”- which usually means they’re being a bit lazy.

However, if you’re talking about an object, it has usually been left “laying around”.

These are tiny differences that even most English speakers are not aware of. Although people will still know what you’re talking about, understanding English can help us to make better use of our language, and be able to speak better when we have a better idea of the rules.