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differences between "sitting/seated/seats" (context: describing a person in a seated position)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jjshell, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. jjshell Junior Member

    France - French
    Hi,

    When describing a person sitting on a chair in a text, would the following options all be ok?

    1. "She walks to a desk behind which a girl is sitting."

    2. "She walks to a desk behind which a girl is seated."

    3. "She walks to a desk behind which a girl sits."

    Or in the following context:

    4. "A woman is sitting behind a desk."

    5. "A woman is seated behind a desk."

    6. "A woman sits behind a desk."

    What is the difference between sitting/seated/sits?

    Regards,

    -jj.
     
  2. Prairiefire

    Prairiefire Senior Member

    US (Midwest) - English
    You asked, "What is the difference between sitting/seated/sits?"

    All the sentences you wrote are grammatically correct and they all mean the same thing. It's all a matter of style at this level.

    1. "She walks to a desk behind which a girl is sitting"
    2. "She walks to a desk behind which a girl is seated"
    3. "She walks to a desk behind which a girl sits."
    ...are all too long and stuffy.

    'Behind which' almost always makes the writer or speaker sound stuffy and official.
    I would write: "She walks to a desk where a girl sits.' (I would use 'sits' because it is the same form as 'walks.')

    4. "A woman is sitting behind a desk."
    5. "A woman is seated behind a desk."
    6. "A woman sits behind a desk."

    Unless for some reason it is important to tell the reader that she is behind the desk, I would use the shorter '...at a desk.'
     
  3. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    These are all correct. The only differences are the tenses and the context ie:

    4. "A woman is sitting behind a desk." "Sitting" describes what the women is doing.

    5. "A woman is seated behind a desk." "Seated" describes where the women is.

    6. "A woman sits behind a desk." This would only be used if I were describing a scene to someone ie: "A woman sits behind a desk. Behind her is a floor lamp which is turned on. The desk is very messy", etc.

    I'm not a grammarian so I can't describe these in grammatical terms.
     
  4. Prairiefire

    Prairiefire Senior Member

    US (Midwest) - English
    One more thought: "...woman is seated..." can have one meaning that is different than the other two.

    If another person had walked with the woman to the chair or desk and told her that she can or should sit down there, and if you wanted to describe that event in the present tense, you could write, '...woman is seated...' but the other two choices would not convey that meaning.
     
  5. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Good catch, Prairiefire. If I'm a receptionist and am showing a client into the office boardroom, I would walk with her into the room and say "Please be seated". I am "seating" the woman. In jjshell's context, however, it is unlikely that I would "seat" the woman behind the desk.:)
     
  6. jjshell Junior Member

    France - French
    Thanks a lot for your help. It's too bad this forum doesn't have a rep system ;)

    What if, while discribing a room and its inoccupants, I mention a person's position, like in:
    "Her friend, seated, seemed like he was bored. The guy next to him (...)".

    Is the use of Seated correct?

    :)
     
  7. Aistriúchán Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    It sounds good.
     

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