Profesores - Madrid Employment - Madrid Jobs in Spain Academias de Inglés Links Profesores Corredor de Henares

Lay, Lie, Make, Do, etc.

More Common Mistakes in English

Lay and Lie

The words "lay" and "lie" are very similar in meaning and often confuse even native speakers.

Steven Starry
Steven Starry
Currently available for online Skype conversation classes.
Profesores de inglés
Profesores norte
Profesores noroeste
Profesores sur
Profesores suroeste
Profesores sureste
Corredor Henares
Online Teachers
Estudiar inglés
Vocabulario - inglés
Gramática - inglés
William Christison
William Christison.

William y Steven: MadridTeacher podcast: "Anatomy of a Murder" (MP3, Text)
 Scroll down
    Profesores Madrid

An article written by Victoria Fontana.

Both verbs are irregular. However, "lay" is a transitive verb and "lie" is intransitive. This means that "lay" needs a direct object and "lie" does not.

"Lay" (lay/laid/laid) means to put something down on a surface in a horizontal position.
Example: She laid the puppy on the grass. (the puppy is the direct object)

"Lie" (lie/lay/lain) also means to place oneself in a horizontal position on a surface (usually accompanied by the word “down") or describes the location of something, usually referring to geography.
Example: "Lie down on the bed and I will tell you a story." (no direct object)
Example: "Madrid lies in the middle of Spain."

"Lie" (lie/lied/lied) also means to not tell the truth. However, in this case, it is a regular verb.
Example: "She lied to me about the price of the hotel."

Practice: Lay and Lie

Mad Men Don't Lie: Lay vs. Lie

Make and Do

"Make" and "Do" are often confused by Spanish speakers because they only have one word for both concepts. As a general rule, "Make" and "Do" have the following uses:

"Make" – Creating, Constructing, Building
We use "make" to describe the action of creating something, usually resulting in a new end product:

"make dinner"
"make a cup of coffee"
"make a plan"
"make a cake"

"Do" – Activities, Non-defined actions
We use "do" to describe the action of carrying out daily activities or jobs. Normally these actions do not result in any new end product, yet often alter the state of an already existing thing:

"do homework" (the homework existed before doing it, you did it, and now it is different)
"do the housework" (the house was messy, you did the housework, and now the house is clean)
"do the shopping" (the items were in the supermarket, I bought them and carried them home, now they are in my house – I did the shopping.)

Non-defined actions
When we want to talk about an action without specifically naming the action itself, we use "do." We usually use it with "nothing", "anything", "something", etc.

A: "What are you doing?"
B: "I'm not doing anything right now. Why, do you want to do something?
A: "No, there’s really nothing to do."

This, of course, results in a very ambiguous conversation!

Both "make" and "do" are also used in fixed expressions which often don't follow any guidelines. Here are some common ones:

"Make the bed" (this refers to pulling the sheets and blankets up to make the bed look nice and neat)
"Make a decision"
"Make an effort"
"Make amends"
"Make love"
"Make plans/arrangements"
"Make a call"
"Make a mess"
"Make haste"

"Do good /bad"
"Do well"
"Do the washing up"
"Do business"
"Do enough"
"Do a favor"
"Do the right thing"
"Do a good/bad job"

Practice: Make and Do
How to use the word "make" in English

See, Watch and Look at

"See" is what we do when we open our eyes. It is really involuntary.
Example: "She saw a ray of light shoot out of the sky."

"Watch" and "Look at" are both voluntary actions that we use our eyes to do.

We "watch" things that are moving or happening usually for a longer period of time (like the TV, a movie, an accident, people walk by, the sunset, etc.). "Watch" can also mean to observe something or guard something. In this case it can be something static, but the action implies keeping an eye on something for the purpose of protecting it or observing it for change.

Example: "I don’t watch more than 1 hour of TV per day."
"Susie, could you watch my daughter for a moment, I have to go to the bathroom."
"We watched the plants grow for 3 weeks."

We "look at" things that are static or that don't move, and it can be for a long time or for an instant (a picture, a tree, a person's face, the scenery, etc.)

Example: "I looked at her and we both started laughing."
"She looked at all the photos and then chose the best one."

Here is an example comparing the three:

"I saw the television." (my eyes were open, and the television was in my line of vision, so I saw it.)
"I watched the television." (there was some interesting program on the television so I sat there for an hour and watched it.)
"I looked at the television." (I voluntarily moved my eyes in the direction of the television because there was something of interest there for me to see.)

Practice: See, watch and look at

English Vocabulary - Look / See / Watch

So, Such and Very

In general, "so" is used to modify an adjective or adverb and "such" is used to modify a noun (even if that noun is described by other adjectives). "So" and "Such" often exaggerate the concept of "very." They both correspond to the word "tan" in Spanish.
"I am so tired!" (¡Estoy tan cansada!) vs. "I am very tired." (Estoy muy cansada.)
"She is such a good friend." (Ella es tan buena amiga.) vs. "She is a very good friend." (Ella es muy buena amiga.)

Practice: So, such and very

Using so and too
So and Such
She's SO hot! (So and Such)
La Diferencia Entre So and Such y Como Utilizarles Explicado en Español
Very Big or Absolutely Big

Too and Too much/many

The same works for "too" and "too much" / "too many." "Too" is used to modify an adjective or adverb and "too much/many" is used to modify nouns. They both correspond to "demasiado" in Spanish.
"She is too nice."
"I have too much sugar in my coffee." (uncountable)
"There are too many people in my house." (countable)

Practice: Too, too much and too many

Very, too, enough

Travel and Trip

"Travel" is a usually used as a verb. The noun "travel" exists but is normally not used. (for example: Gulliver’s Travels)

"Trip" is the noun associated with "travel." It corresponds to "viaje" in Spanish. You take a "trip."

Example: "We traveled to Hong Kong last year. It was a lovely trip."

"Trip" can also be used as a verb, but it has a totally different meaning – it means to fall because something obstructs your feet as you walk. (Spanish, "tropezar")

Practice: Travel and trip

by JamesESL also at:

Be used to doing, Used to do and Usually do

"Used to doing" is used with the word "to be" and means "to be accustomed to something." "Used to" is followed by a noun, or a verb in "–ing" form.
Examples: "I have lived in Madrid for 12 years. Now I am used to the city life." ("I am accustomed to the city life.")
"I am used to living in the city."

"Used to do/have/etc" is used to talk about something repeated in the past or something you did in the past and no longer do.
Example: "I used to play sports, but now I do nothing."
"When I was a child, I used to go to the park every afternoon with my grandmother."
You can also use the word "would" to substitute "used to" in the second example.
"When I was a child, I would go to the park every afternoon with my grandmother."

* NOTE: We do not use "use to" in the present to describe things that we do on a regular basis, or habitually. We use the word "usually" in this case.
Example: "I usually get up at 7:00 am every day."
NOT: "I use to get up at 7:00 am every day."

(In Spanish "suelo" corresponds to "I usually" and "solia" corresponds to "I used to". In other words, "I use to" does NOT correspond to "suelo" in Spanish)

Practice: be used to doing, used to do and usually
Más: Used to y Soler

USED TO - Lesson 8, Part 1 - Common Mistakes in English by: JenniferESL.
USED TO - Lesson 8, Part 1 - Common Mistakes in English
USED TO - Lesson 8, Part 2 - Common Mistakes in English
Used to (en Castellano)
"Would" para habitos en el pasado
(be) used to
Get used to

During and while

by Rebecca ESL also at:

For and During

When talking about a duration of time there is a difference between "for" and "during" in English. (In Spanish you usually use the word "durante" but you can’t always substitute "durante" with "during.")

"For" is used to talk about a defined duration of time:
"I went to school for 4 years."
"She was traveling for 3 days."
NOT: She was traveling during 3 days.
"During" is used to describe when something occurs, defining the timeframe with an event or period of time ("during the concert," "during the summer," "during the trip," "during the game," etc.), rather than with "time" words (hours, minutes, days, etc.):
"Three people called me during the concert."
(Timeframe: the concert / What occurred?: Three people called me.)

Practice: For and during
For vs during

What or That

In relative clauses, we can often use "what" or "that" as the linking word. When do we use "what" instead of "that"?
When you can substitute "the thing that" or "the things that" in place of the linking word, then you use "what." In Spanish, you use "lo/la los/las que" or the word "qué" with an accent, not "que" without.

Example: "We have what we need." ("Tenemos lo que necesitamos.")
"We have the things that we need."
"I don’t know what you want." ("No sé qué quieres.")

* Note: "What" substitutes the object or thing you are talking about, so make sure you don't mention both in one sentence:
Do not say: "We have everything what we need."

Practice: What and that

New activities

Image of activity

Elementary Crossword 1(Cruzigramas para principiantes))

Economist article crossword
(Vocabulario de un artículo)

From an article in Empire Magazine
(Vocabulario de un artículo)

William y Steven: MadridTeacher podcast: "Post-apocalyptic fiction" (MP3, Text)

Steven Starry
Steven Starry
Currently available for online Skype conversation classes.

Condiciones de Uso Política de Seguridad y Protección de Datos

©, 1999-2019.