English as a Second Language/Lay & Lie



I saw the following on a package of tee shirts: "lay flat collar"

Should "lay" be "lie" as in lie flat collar?

I thank you for your reply.

Hello Kenneth,

and thank you for this interesting question.

The English verbs lay and lie are commonly confused by even native English speakers.

Lay (laid, laid) is a transitive verb - it must be used with a direct object.

Lie (lay, lain) is an intransitive verb - it cannot have a direct object.

There are two problems here. One is that lie and lay mean more or less the same thing; it's just that lie is intransitive and lay is transitive. In addition, the past tense of lie is identical to the present tense lay.

You use "lay" when someone places an object or puts it down, and you use the word "lie" when the subject reclines.

Cutting down to the chase now: I agree with you, the correct version should be "lie flat collar".

This wouldn't be the first time when advertising for a product doesn't follow grammar rules (my all times favorite is McDonald's "I'm loving it").

The following website may help a bit as well:


I hope this helps.


English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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