All right, folks, here I am with slightly red face, realizing why I hadn’t published yesterday’s post earlier: it was not finished. As my dear friend, Deb, gently reminded me, there is more to the “lie / lay” issue, and this is probably the cause of much confusion.
The verb “lie” may mean (a) to fib (b) to recline. In the case of the fib, it’s She lies—she lied—she has lied. In the case of reclining: She lies—she lay—she has lain. Note that the past tense of “lie” in terms of reclining is “lay.” It’s kosher to use the word “lay” without an object if it’s being used in the past tense. For example, if I lie in bed all day today, I will talk about it in the past tense tomorrow: Yesterday I lay in bed all day. And that will be okay—not the lying in bed all day but the use of the verb.
The verb “lay” means to place: She lays (something)—she laid (something)—she has laid (something). This is the verb that is followed by an object.
I hope that’s all clear as mud. I’m leaving now so you can double-check with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style or Woe is I or Eats, Shoots and Leaves.