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Anonymous
These papers were lying on my desk; are they yours?

From a sixth grade student.

I would rephrase as: Are these papers, which were lying on my desk, yours?
Anonymous
These papers were lying on my desk; are they yours?

From a sixth grade student.

I would rephrase as: Are these papers, which were lying on my desk, yours?
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Hi,

Or These papers were lying on my desk. Are they yours?

Not everything has to be accomplished in a single sentence. Emotion: smile

Best wishes, Clive
Yoong Liat
Mother is laying the table. (She is putting dishes of food on the table, so we can have dinner soon.)

This sentence isn't the best example. We don't say that. Mother is setting the table by laying out the dishes.

You all are missing one key element to the difference. Lay is a transitive verb (it must take a direct object), and lie is an intransitive verb. This is why we lay a plate on the table, but we lie down.
ytsirk
Yoong Liat
Mother is laying the table. (She is putting dishes of food on the table, so we can have dinner soon.)

This sentence isn't the best example. We don't say that. Mother is setting the table by laying out the dishes.

You all are missing one key element to the difference. Lay is a transitive verb (it must take a direct object), and lie is an intransitive verb. This is why we lay a plate on the table, but we lie down.
You lay a table when you put plates and cutlery on it ready for a meal. (Times-Chambers Essential English Dictionary)
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Hi Yoong Liat

What ytsirk may have meant was that saying "set the table" is probably more commonly used in American English. I only say 'set the table' too.

However, The American Heritage Dictionary also specifiically includes 'lay the table' as an example of the usage of the word 'lay'.
lay a table: http://www.bartleby.com/61/76/L0077600.html
set a table: http://www.bartleby.com/61/9/S0290900.html

Thanks, Amy, for the information on AmE usage and the websites.
what about: mama and papa were laying in bed...?
why is ist "laying" rather than "lying"?
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I explained that even though it may seem harsh to him at first, by ensuring that the subjects remain seated, or laying down