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These are two different verbs and they are often confused both by meaning and by tense.

If we look at them side by side, this is what we come up with:

"To Lie" = To recline or rest

Present tense = lie or lies

Past tense = lay

Past participle = lain

Present participle = lying

"To Lay" = to put or place something down. 

Present tense = lay or lays

Past tense = laid

Past participle = lain

Present participle laying

An easy way to distinguish between the verbs is to remember that individuals -- human or animal -- can lie down, in the sense of rest or recline:

The girl is lying down on the sofa.

The dog lay down on the front porch.

Those same individuals can put or place something down:

The girl was laying her books on the desk one at a time.

The dog laid her puppies on the blanket.

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Is there a rule I've missed because I am never sure if I am laying or lying? Do I lie my head on his shoulder or simply lay it? Please advise :speechless:

In India, we use it this way:

I was laying down the flowers on the bed.

I was lying on the bed.

The usage of some words differ from nation to nation, especially if the country was British colony.

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I learnt it like this:

I laid my head on my shoulder.

My head is lying on my shoulder.

He's laying head on my shoulder.

I don't like going in-depth and thinking too much about english. I prefer just memorizing these things by reading forums and chatting with people.

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