Phrasal Verbs with “Lay” in English

15 English Phrasal Verbs with LAY

What does “lay” mean in English?

Let’s start by considering the word “lay” [leɪ] in English. This word has two main meanings:

  1. To place something in a horizontal position:
    • “The librarian laid the ancient manuscript on the cushioned table to preserve it.”
  2. To prepare a plan or method of work:
    • “The committee laid out the guidelines for the new project.”
  3. To produce eggs (when referring to animals or birds):
    • “The goose laid an egg in the nest every day.”
  4. To make a claim, legal statement, etc., in a serious or formal manner:
    • “The plaintiff laid a claim against the company for damages.”

The forms of the word “lay” for different tenses are: “lay” (present tense), “laid” (past tense and past participle), and “laying” (present participle). For example:

  • “Every day, she lays the table for dinner.”
  • “Yesterday, he laid a new carpet in the living room.”
  • “They are laying cables under the street.”

Additionally, “lay” is used as a phrasal verb, so let’s explore some of the most popular phrasal verbs with “lay” and their meanings.

TOP 15 Phrasal Verbs with “lay” in English

Lay off

  • Meaning: To terminate someone’s employment, usually due to economic reasons or restructuring.
  • Example: The company had to lay off several employees due to budget cuts.

Lay out

  • Meaning: To explain something clearly or to arrange something carefully.
  • Example: She laid out her plans for the project during the meeting.

Lay aside

  • Meaning: To set something aside or reserve it for future use.
  • Example: He decided to lay aside some money for his upcoming vacation.

Lay down

  • Meaning: To establish a rule, law, or principle.
  • Meaning: Kill, murder
  • Example: The government laid down strict guidelines for public safety.
  • Example: He got laid down in a turf war about supplying drugs.

Lay up

  • Meaning: To store or reserve something for future use.
  • Example: She laid up some supplies for the winter.

Lay into

  • Meaning: To criticize or attack someone strongly.
  • Example: He laid into his colleague for not completing the task on time.

Lay up

  • Meaning: To be unable to work or carry out usual activities due to illness or injury.
  • Example: She was laid up in bed with a fever for a week.

Lay on

  • Meaning: To provide or offer something generously.
  • Meaning: Organise, supply
  • Example: The hotel laid on a complimentary breakfast for its guests.
  • Example: They laid on a buffet lunch at the conference.

Lay by

  • Meaning: To save or reserve money for future use.
  • Example: They decided to lay by some funds for emergencies.

Lay off

  • Meaning: To stop doing something or take a break.
  • Example: She laid off studying for a while to relax.

Lay out

  • Meaning: To spend money or resources freely and extravagantly.
  • Example: He laid out a considerable amount on his new car.

Lay around

  • Meaning: To be idle or lazy; to spend time doing nothing productive.
  • Example: They just laid around all day watching TV.

Lay down

  • Meaning: To surrender or put down weapons in the context of warfare.
  • Example: The soldiers laid down their arms and surrendered.

Lay off

  • Meaning: To reduce the intensity or frequency of something.
  • Example: He decided to lay off smoking for his health.

Lay into

  • Meaning: To exert pressure or stress on something.
  • Meaning: Criticise angrily
  • Example: The storm laid into the coastline, causing significant damage.
  • Example: His partner laid into him when he arrived two hours late.

The verb “lay” has many different meanings and is widely used in phrasal verbs in English. Phrasal verbs with “lay” can have a completely different meaning than the individual words that form them. Here are the key points:

💡 Mastering the different meanings of phrasal verbs with “lay” and using them correctly in context will help you achieve more natural English proficiency.

💡 Some phrasal verbs, such as “lay off”, “lay down”, and “lay into” have multiple meanings, so it’s important to understand the context for proper interpretation.

💡 Phrasal verbs often have an idiomatic, figurative meaning that can be difficult to understand literally, for example, “lay around”.

💡 Pay close attention to the sentence structure and placement of the components of the phrasal verb, as this can change its meaning.

Regular practice using phrasal verbs with “lay” in reading, writing, and conversation will help you master these idiomatic expressions and sound more natural in English. Don’t be afraid to experiment and memorize them in interesting contexts.

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