Usually my go-to website for grammar questions is the "Grammar Girl" ... but on this topic, she uses words like congugate and participle, and frankly, if I don't remember to turn off my speakers, the video commercials on her site blast me with Victoria's Secret ads. Pet peeve (and off topic, sorry).
Maybe I need to take middle school English again. Picture that: big old me sitting at tiny desk with little people way smarter than me. *sigh*
Anyhow. After scavenging through many websites, I found a very concise explanation from Purdue.edu -
"Lay" is a verb meaning to put or place something somewhere.It takes a direct
object. Its principal parts are "lay," "laid," "laid," and "laying."
Examples: Every day I lay the book on the table. Yesterday I laid the
book on the table. I have laid the book on the table many times.I am laying the
book on the table right now.
In all these examples, the verb is a form
of the word "lay," and the direct object is "book."
"Lie" is, in this
context, a verb meaning to recline. It does not take an object. Its principal
parts are "lie," "lay," "lain," and "lying."
Examples: Every night I lie
down. I lay down last night. I have lain down many times. I am lying down right
If you're in doubt about whether to use "lay" or "lie," try
substituting a form of the verb "place." If it makes sense, use a form of "lay."
So, print out the examples above and practice using the words! I'd suggest taking the sentence you're struggling with in your manuscript, and see if you can't match it to one of the sentences above to figure out the correct part of lay or lie you should use. :)
Good luck (to us all)!!
Have a great weekend.