Language is a delicate matter, so you can paraphrase a famous phrase from the Soviet film. Language is constantly changing, with new words, some word forms it drops useless, forgetting forever, and the other revives with time.
Find the difference between some words is not just difficult but almost impossible, and this, in turn, leads to many errors in the use of these words. Perhaps everyone who would ever be fixed, was wondering about how to properly: put a box or. Tried to find some information, but without getting a concrete answer, I learned that the word "lay down" better not to drink at all. So what's the difference, and you are right, those who endlessly corrects confused.
What is the difference?
Some researchers say that "lay down" is an archaic form, obsolete. Others note that disputes about the right to say "lay" or "lay down", in fact, meaningless, because these words are synonymous, differing only slightly in value. Sources say that the word "lay down" was used when the object was placed on some surface, and "laying" was used when it was placed inside of something (i.e. "lay down on the table" and "put on the table").
Interesting version associated with the disappearance of the verb "lay down" of modern Russian language (a half century ago, he was considered a literary word). It is likely that the reason became Western movies. In the Soviet Union cinema was subjected to a censorship that no one swear word not slipped. But when the country began to appear in American films, where he met and curses, and detailed descriptions of sexual acts, some words become associated in people with quite natural processes (for example, the word "finish" was considered not quite decent, he was replaced by a "finish"). To use in everyday life, something like that is worthless, and that's got the word "lay down" from use. From time to time about it, of course, I remember, and then there is the question of how to speak: to put or lay down.
But back to the use of words. The most simple and well known rule: "lay down" – only with a prefix, and "put" it. So remember the easiest way one can know how to box or put. Have to go into the jungle of linguistics, we can say that "laying" is only for actions imperfect (to put – what to do?), while "lay down" is a perfect example of (to lay, to put, to put – what to do?). One rule derived from the second, so you just have to remember about the use of the prefix with one of these verbs.
Rule, of course, everything is clear. But what to do with the verb "to lay", for example? The root is still the same, but there are console – it turns out, the rule is contested? Or the famous "hard" – here the infinitive is generally "poklast", which, in principle, language does not exist! So. "Poklast" is an obsolete verb, out of use and occurs now only in the lyrics of some poets, for example, Nekrasov. With "spread" it's much easier – it's a verb of the same imperfect, so that its use in speech is quite acceptable.
Another interesting point is the verb "to lay". In the Russian language there is an interchange of the roots of the lag/lodges, so this word is clearly cognate with the ill-fated "lay down". It seems that the console is, however, the verb is imperfect, which contradicts the rule. It is likely that it is better to consider "to put" another exception, of which there was a vast amount. It is impossible not to recall the "lie" is the verb imperfect is used without the prefix, however, is considered quite literary.
General talk about how to properly: put a box or can be very long. Many exceptions prove that to say that the rule will allow you to understand once and for all, is just silly, so it is best to remember the axiom: with the prefix – "lay down", without the prefix is "putting".
From the point of view of Philology
If everything is so easy, then why there are difficulties when you need to choose to use the word "lay down" or "lay"? Here it is already in native speakers in the nation. In the dictionary Dahl "lay down" is quite a literary word, whereas Ushakov says that this is a colloquial expression.
Language is constantly changing, some words go out of him, some beginning to be used in another sense – as it turns out, and "lay down". The situation, as some researchers, such as with the word "coffee", the kind of which many can not remember. And "lay down" more than usual for unknown reasons, the Russian people, constantly displaces the right to "put".
Linguists fear that soon the day will come when both versions of the verb will be considered correct, as it happened with the same "coffee" (now it is both masculine and neuter), – currently, there is a simplification of the language. But while pleased that a large number of Internet users on a question "to Put or lay down – how?", often sets in various forums claim that the verb "lozhit" does not exist. Of course, they are not quite right, but there is hope for the preservation of the great and mighty Russian literary language.
Instead of a conclusion
To finish I would like a simple exercise to consolidate the rules. You just have to choose which verb to use in these phrases. So:
For(to lay down/to put) tile, (go/put) to bed, (laivat/gladiate) hair, who(to put/putting) wreaths, (to lay down/to put) the garnish on the plate(to lay down/to put) a bandage, not (Lodge/hard) hands, have(to put/putting) baby, you(laivat/gladiate) photos.
To check yourself, it is best to ask questions to the verb, and it looks to determine which of the two is better to use: imperfective aspect (what to do) – "put", the perfect aspect (what to do?) – "lay down" with prefixes or postfixes.
Probably arguing about how to "box" or "treasure", never subsides. There is always someone who will say: the main thing – as people say, and dictionaries let the Professor use. And always he will face others who advocate for the purity of the language. And which camp to join – a private matter.