How should I structure a formal essay?
A good rule of thumb for writing an essay is to follow TIQA: Topic, Introduction, Quote, Analysis. You should always begin your body paragraphs with a topic sentence that transitions from the previous paragraph. Follow that with background information to introduce your quote. Your quote can be from an article, a novel, or factual research and must be cited. After your quote, you analyze it. You should tell why the quote is important and how it proves the point you are trying to make. Follow this process as many times as necessary to prove your point and meet requirements.
When should I use 'this' instead of 'that'?
If you are touching the object, you should use 'this'. If you are pointing to the object, you should use 'that'. For example, if an apple is in your hand you should say, "This is an apple." If an apple is on a table you should point to it and say, "That is an apple."
What is the difference between 'lie' and 'lay' as present tense verbs?
'Lie' does not take an indirect object or an object that is not the main subject. Essentially, if the subject of the sentence can move to a flat position by itself, use 'lie.' For example: When I want to take a nap, I lie down in bed. In this example you can see that I can move myself to the bed. If the subject moves the object, use 'lay.' Items that cannot move without help act as indirect objects. For example: Can you lay the book on the table, please? The book is not the subject of the sentence and cannot move on its own, so you use 'lay.'