I am sitting down vs I am sat down

ManOfWords

Senior Member
Português [Brasil]
I am sat down OR we are sat down, (instead of I am sitting down) is it used somewhere in USA or in Britain? is it acceptable nowadays?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I've never heard it in my 58 years here in the U.S., ManOfWords. I've never seen any indication at all in any text I've ever read that "We are sat down" was ever acceptable. Have you actually seen or heard it somewhere?
     
    I have heard, "Next, I am sat down by the principal and given a harsh lecture." "we were" could replace "I am."

    This meaning is different from that in the OP, possibly, but we have no context.

    Collins Concise, def. 2.
    [sit]

    (transitive) to cause to adopt such a [sitting] posture
     
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    ManOfWords

    Senior Member
    Português [Brasil]
    Thanks people, and no owlman5, I haven't heard it from a native, so I kind of thought it could be possible somewhere, I was not sure ... as I saw on the threads You little ripper! posted, people do say it so, sometimes though. ;)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Apparently so, MOW, but it sounds substandard and very odd to me. The normal word for that over here is "seated".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    It's very ordinary in BrE and can come from the mouths of educated speakers, though I would say that it is probably still informal. You hear it a fair bit, and you'll see this in representations of spoken English in novels (and also from the voice of the narrator of they adopt an informal style).

    The meaning is different from the one quoted by benny (post 3); that refers to the transitive sit, as in 'I sat the doll in front of the television', which gives us the passive construction, 'The doll was sat in front of the television'.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In another thread I came across this:

    It's been sat on my desk for days (waiting for you to pick it up.)

    DO you think that it's OK or should it be in the active voice?


    It's been sitting on my desk for days (waiting for you to pick it up.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's not passive. To quote from Nat's post above, 'be sat' for 'be sitting' is
    ... very ordinary in BrE and can come from the mouths of educated speakers, though I would say that it is probably still informal.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's not passive. To quote from Nat's post above, 'be sat for 'be sitting' is
    What do you mean it's not passive? It's a classical case of the passive voice. The fact that it can be used to mean the active voice is another kettle of fish.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Have it your way, Ivan. I'd say "sat", there, is a past participle used as an adjective. But I haven't got the energy to argue with you. Perhaps you'd like to read some of the other threads.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Have it your way, Ivan. I'd say "sat", there, is a past participle used as an adjective. But I haven't got the energy to argue with you. Perhaps youd like to read some of the other threads.
    Loob, it's not my way.
    The house is/was/has been built. - the passive voice. (built-past participle)
    It has been sat. - the passive voice. (sat -past participle)
    Yes, sat is a past participle. But it doesn't make the sentence not passive because of that as the past particle as an integral part of the passive voice. I am reading the threads.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You have misunderstood the point made in many of the threads on this topic. In many regional dialects in Britain 'sat' is not only the past participle of 'sit', it is also the present participle. "I was sat" is not passive, it is the continuous past tense and equivalent to the non-regional "I was sitting". This colloquial form is very common and is used by both well-educated and less-well-educated speakers who come from regions where this usage is idiomatic. I suggest that this use of "I was sat" pre-dates grammarians discussing the passive voice by a few centuries.

    Of course it is also used passively. "I was marched into the boss's office, sat down in a chair, and given the biggest bollocking I've had in my life." But there "sat" is the past participle, and some would also consider it non-standard, preferring "seated".
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    You have misunderstood the point made in many of the threads on this topic. In many regional dialects in Britain 'sat' is not only the past participle of 'sit', it is also the present participle. "I was sat" is not passive, it is the continuous past tense and equivalent to the non-regional "I was sitting".
    I surely took the point but it's not what it really is. It's just that in many regional dialects in Britain people take the past participle to mean the present participle. But does it really enable "sat" to be considered the present particle?
    Maybe I am wrong, but in that case I would like to see "sat" classified as the present participle by any reputable grammatist.

    To consider something to be something is not exactly the same as to really be something.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: = I'm in total agreeement with Andy's #15. I do regard 'I was sat' as uneducated or regional and would never say it. I use 'sitting' unless I am talking about somebody making me sit in a designated place.
    "I was annoyed to be/have been sat next to my husband because I get enough of his conversation at home."
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Which came first, English or grammarians? The labels are an attempt to bring some sort of order to something which is naturally disorderly. There is a version of English which could be considered standard, and there are many other versions which are regional and referred to as dialects. In many of those dialects "sat", using the terminology of grammarians, is the present participle of "sit". That the present participle in other dialects is "sitting" has no bearing on the dialects where it is not.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It isn't passsive if the speaker decided where they wanted to sit. It's describing a state, using a past participle in a similiar way to 'I was worn out'.
    By the way, I don't regard dialects as inferior.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    How can 'I was sat' be a passive construction if the meaning is 'I was sitting' as opposed to 'Someone made me sit'? In other words sit is used as an intransitive verb.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It can't be drawn upon.
    What do you mean? If my daughter-in-law (a very well-educated Lancastrian) calls me on her mobile phone and says "We're going to be late, we're sat in a traffic queue just south of Bridgwater", she is using the present participle of "sit" in her dialect. People from her part of England said "We're sat here" long before a grammarian came up with the term "present participle".
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In many of those dialects "sat", using the terminology of grammarians, is the present participle of "sit". That the present participle in other dialects is "sitting" has no bearing on the dialects where it is not.
    It seems to be going too far to describe sat as a present participle (which is a traditional name for the -ing form of the verb).
    This would make sat the only example of a past participle being a present participle. How helpful is that?

    It seems obvious that in the sentence "It was a bitterly cold night and I was sat in front of the fire drinking whisky" the verb sat (which has the form of the past participle) means seated or in a sitting position.
    There is nothing particularly unusual about this sentence, although it may be described as regional or dialect.

    As for calling I was sat a passive construction, we must distinguish between the adjectival sat and the passive sat, which carry different meanings.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    This would make sat the only example of a past participle being a present participle.
    Would it?

    Where are you?
    I'm sat in a traffic jam on the M6.
    I'm sitting in a traffic jam on the M6.
    I'm stood on a bridge watching the traffic on the M6.
    I'm standing on a bridge watching the traffic on the M6.

    Four sentences, all using a form of the present continuous appropriate to the speaker's dialect. No difference in the grammar. Therefore, for the two who are not speaking "standard" English, sat and stood clearly aren't past participles, are they? It's not the appearance of the word that matters, is it? What matters is its function. So within their dialect they are present participles, even though they don't end in -ing.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The present participle in English is a regular inflectional form (always ending in -ing).
    That's why to call sat a present participle (a traditional term) is an extraordinary claim, whether the meaning is regional or part of a dialect.

    Sat is formed like a strong verb and its past participle is the same. Stood is also described as a regional form of the past participle.
    The meaning of the past participle in we were sat in the cinema is adjectival (e.g. seated). This is a state, as described in #21.
    If sat is a present participle, I would expect it to be used like the traditional gerund. Do we say thing like My sat on the big chair made him angry? This would make sense if we talked about My sitting, so why does it sound wrong?

    The same argument applies to the term subjunctive. English has no subjunctive mood, i.e. an inflected form of the verb differing from other forms. The one exception is the use of were in the third person, which is a historical relic and has been superseded by was in many cases.
    Modern grammar talks about subjunctive constructions and does not recognise subjunctive forms, which can be explain by reference to, for example, the base form of the verb. If we have an apparent subjunctive construction (as in I demand that he return the money), there is no justification for saying that demand is a subjunctive form, but only that the syntax is one of subjunctive.

    The fact that some speakers regard we were sat as regional does not justify overturning established principles of grammar where inflection is concerned. The same inflection can give rise to different meanings (as in it's time I went to bed, where I went is the past tense but carries no past meaning).
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The present participle in English is a regular inflectional form (always ending in -ing).
    Do you mean in standard English ignoring regional dialects? If that is how you wish to see things, fine. What, then, is your label for sat in "I am sat" and stood in "I am stood" when the sentences are being used with a present continuous meaning? Must we label them by form or by function?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I can see where you're coming from, Andy, but I would call them both past participles used as adjectives - like closed in I wanted to buy some toilet rolls, but the shop was closed.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't want to flog this to death, Loob, but "the shop was closed" isn't the present continuous, and neither is "the shop is closed".
     
    The present participle in English is a regular inflectional form (always ending in -ing).
    That's why to call sat a present participle (a traditional term) is an extraordinary claim, whether the meaning is regional or part of a dialect.

    Sat is formed like a strong verb and its past participle is the same. Stood is also described as a regional form of the past participle.
    The meaning of the past participle in we were sat in the cinema is adjectival (e.g. seated). This is a state, as described in #21.
    If sat is a present participle, I would expect it to be used like the traditional gerund. Do we say thing like My sat on the big chair made him angry? This would make sense if we talked about My sitting, so why does it sound wrong?

    The same argument applies to the term subjunctive. English has no subjunctive mood, i.e. an inflected form of the verb differing from other forms. The one exception is the use of were in the third person, which is a historical relic and has been superseded by was in many cases.
    Modern grammar talks about subjunctive constructions and does not recognise subjunctive forms, which can be explain by reference to, for example, the base form of the verb. If we have an apparent subjunctive construction (as in I demand that he return the money), there is no justification for saying that demand is a subjunctive form, but only that the syntax is one of subjunctive.

    The fact that some speakers regard we were sat as regional does not justify overturning established principles of grammar where inflection is concerned. The same inflection can give rise to different meanings (as in it's time I went to bed, where I went is the past tense but carries no past meaning).
    Of course you can 'win' an argument by stating the conclusion as your first premise! I think Andy's point is simple. Define by function *exactly as is done for 'past participle'* . One does not say, "past participles, always ending in -ed....:" We define by function. So why not do the same for present participle. It's from a verb (some form or other), non-finite, used to indicate present action (often continuing), operating as adjective or adverb in a sentence.

    One can talk about 'ing forms' certainly; that is a surface feature found in verb forms functioning as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns.
     

    Boccherini

    Member
    Italiano
    'I am sat' and 'I am sitting' convey distinct conditions.

    Using the present participle emphasizes an ongoing situation of the present time. Using the past participle expresses a state as an adjective does: likewise 'I am seated' 'I am tired'.

    'I am stood' and 'I am standing' have the same syntax of 'I am sat' and 'I am sitting'.
    For this reason I find appropriate to define 'sat' an adjective (derived from a past participle) and 'sitting' a present participle in the progressive form.

    The difference in syntax between 'I am sat' and 'I am sitting' appears also evident in the different function of the verb 'to be'. In 'I am sat' the verb 'to be' functions as a copular verb, it has the same function when it is followed by an adjective in predicative position, whereas in 'I am sitting' functions as an auxiliary of the verb 'to sit'
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't have a dog in this fight because we don't use this form at all in American English (and, honestly, I thought it was a joke when I first heard it - freaky), buuuut, from what I have observed of its use it seems to me this description is a bit too rigid.

    "it has the same function when it is followed by an adjective in predicative position, whereas in 'I am sitting' functions as an auxiliary of the verb 'to sit'"

    I think that's a perfect description of how it's used if you use it that way, but not if you don't. I can conceive you think that's the only way it's used but my sense from reading and hearing examples is the people who use it use it as a direct substitute for sitting.

    That's my 1¢ contribution as someone with the bare minimum of formal grammatical training.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    ... my sense from reading and hearing examples is the people who use it use it as a direct substitute for sitting.
    :thumbsup:
    Right in line with the native spekaers of BE in #7, 8, 15 and 17. Grammarians can fight over what to call it but
    You have misunderstood the point made in many of the threads on this topic. In many regional dialects in Britain 'sat' is not only the past participle of 'sit', it is also the present participle.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Using the present participle emphasizes an ongoing situation of the present time. Using the past participle expresses a state as an adjective does: likewise 'I am seated' 'I am tired'.
    But it doesn't. People who use the dialect form "I am sat" as I have used it in this thread mean exactly the same as speakers who use the standard "I am sitting". Your explanation can only be true if English speakers use both forms; they don't, they use one or the other.
     

    Matchy

    New Member
    Chinese - Mandarin
    They can but they don't as they call it the past particle. For me the case is crystal clear and closed.
    Hi, Ivan. As an non-native struggling with English, I constantly find grammar books contradicting each other, and they confuse me sometimes. I think this is just another example where grammarians failed to properly define something. Maybe we can call it “past-but-in-some-dialects-present-participle”.;)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    A final word from me (I hope). Of course I accept that with every other verb I can think of there's a clear difference between the present and past participles. I can't think of verbs other than sit and stand that have this particular dialect usage. Here's two incoming phone calls that have identical meaning:

    Hello Andygc, this is northern girl. We're stuck on the motorway, but I'm sticking to my travel plan. We've been sat in traffic for ages. Up ahead there's lots of people stood on a bridge looking down the road; I think there may have been an accident.

    Hello Andygc, this is southern girl. Were stuck on the motorway, but I'm sticking to my travel plan. We've been sitting in traffic for ages. Up ahead there's lots of people standing on a bridge looking down the road; I think there may have been an accident.

    The highlighted words match in usage and meaning. Therefore they are the same parts of speech.

    And let's look at applying standard grammar labels to another dialect:

    "Us got our milkin' dood a bit early - 'bout vive - an' off us goes wi' 'oss an' trap. Us cummed een over Cowley Bridge, pass the 'Pack 'oss' an' up over North Street."

    What part of speech is "us" - first person plural object pronoun? Must be, that's what the grammar books say. No, in Mid-Devon it's the first person plural subject pronoun.

    I'm quite happy to maintain that, in some English dialects, sat and stood are both past and present participles by function, even if some people think it intolerable to label them that way.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It is not difficult to find examples of sat used as an adjective. If we take the phrase she was sat at the back of the class, we can either interpret this as someone sat her there or she was sitting there.

    To claim that this sat is a present participle is extremely dubious, to say the least. It can clearly be written as she was sitting, but we know from dictionaries that the past participle of sit is sat.

    "Ask him yourself. Sat at the end of the row in front of us, a gentleman whose office we might or might not be standing in at this very moment. Do you want to talk to him? Shall I ask him to step in?”​
    Death of an Expert Witness, 1979, by the well-known crime writer in the UK, PD James (now deceased).​

    “Sat at the back of the courtroom, Boy B turned to his mother and asked: ‘I’m guilty?’ The mother hugged her son while his father became noticeably upset.”​

    Such past participles are known as adjectival passives and need not have a transitive form (stative passives). Here are three examples:
    "The house is situated between two large oak trees."​
    "She's a bit run down at the moment."​
    "I'm done with the photocopier if you need it." (meaning I have finished with)​

    An alternative description of they were sat (with the addition of down) instead of a participle is the past perfect tense (when they had sat down):

    "The company were the farmer and his wife, three children and an old grandmother : when they were sat down, the farmer placed me at some distance from him on the table."​
    Jonathan Swift - Gulliver’s Travels 1726​

    Although dialect explains the use of I am sat etc., it is a fairly common construction and not a long way off becoming standard English, in my view.

    Here is an ngram, showing an increase in its frequency. It is taken from He was sat, which contains a long discussion of the phrase in dispute:
    Google Ngram Viewer
     

    Boccherini

    Member
    Italiano
    I'm quite happy to maintain that, in some English dialects, sat and stood are both past and present participles by function, even if some people think it intolerable to label them that way.
    As a student of the English language clearly I don't 'feel' the language as native speakers do. So by what you and kentix have said. in these particular idiomatic cases the past participles 'sat' and 'stood' lose their original significance and acquire the semantic of an ongoing situation similar to the one expressed by a present participle.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Although I'm an I was sitting user, the use of sitting for the state has actually always struck me as slightly odd, given that French, Spanish etc use the equivalent of I was sat.
     

    Linguisticks

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    "I'm sat at the table" isn't used in Australia, but I've long been aware of this kind of construction through my interactions with Brits. Apart from "sit" and "stand", I wonder if any other verbs might be able to take this form? Those two verbs are about body positions, but it seems unlikely that anyone would say "I'm lain in bed".
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "I'm sat at the table" isn't used in Australia, but I've long been aware of this kind of construction through my interactions with Brits. Apart from "sit" and "stand", I wonder if any other verbs might be able to take this form? Those two verbs are about body positions, but it seems unlikely that anyone would say "I'm lain in bed".
    I can't think of verbs other than sit and stand that have this particular dialect usage.
    Neither can I :)
     
    As a student of the English language clearly I don't 'feel' the language as native speakers do. So by what you and kentix have said. in these particular idiomatic cases the past participles 'sat' and 'stood' lose their original significance and acquire the semantic of an ongoing situation similar to the one expressed by a present participle.
    I think your red phrase [my red, benny] kind of begs the question. You make Andy and his peers newcomers on the BE scene.
     
    Neither can I :)
    I'd suspect there are other cases. Why not? Here is one, that perhaps deserves its own thread, if it's going to be discussed. "Lay".

    It's a posting by a native BE speaker, it seems (there are spelling issues, but not grammar ones). He is talking about the sudden illness of a beloved horse, Brandy, leading to a decision to put the horse down.

    5 You won't Forget |

    He was and always will be my horse, well pony in a million, i brought him from the riding school where i worked, he was a very grumpy 13hh grey heinz 57 and when i finally got him after 9yrs of waiting he was around 40yrs old. I learnt everything on him and owed him so much which is why i kept my promise all those years and brought him when it was time for me to move on to a new job. Unfortunatly just into a year after buying him i lost him one summer afternoon, an hour before he was as right as rain happily munching away in the field with his mates i went for my dinner but when i got back he was lay down by the gateway, i reckon he knew how heart broken i would of been to finally make that final desision that he made it for me.
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    the use of I am sat etc. [...] is a fairly common construction and not a long way off becoming standard English, in my view.
    I said exactly that only yesterday morning :)
    I'll concede that it may have begun life as dialectal, but that 'dialect' now covers the entire country ...

    P.S. In the northwest of England you might hear She were just led there, where 'led' is the local pronunciation of laid.
    Lay/lie is an absolute mess/minefield in BrE :cool:
     
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    He was perched?They were crouched?
    I don't understand the point you're making, benny. Can you explain?
    Boccherini is intending to make a supportive comment, but he speaks of an 'original significance' of 'sat'. Presumably as simple past. However if there is a long history of 'sat' functioning as similar to present participle (per Andy), then the 'original' significance is NOT modified by latecomers using it as similar in function to a present participle.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Boccherini is intending to make a supportive comment, but he speaks of an 'original significance' of 'sat'. Presumably as simple past. However if there is a long history of 'sat' functioning as similar to present participle (per Andy), then the 'original' significance is NOT modified by latecomers using it as similar in function to a present participle.
    As is probably clear from my previous comments, I wouldn't myself say that 'sat' in I am sat is "functioning as similar to present participle" (still less that it is a present participle). But I agree if what you're saying is that it has a long history - here's the OED on the construction:
    18b. In pa. pple. with is, was, etc. [...] Now dial.
    c925 Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Parker MS.) ann. 922 Him cierde eall þæt folc to þe on Mercna lande geseten wæs.​
    [...]
    1655 tr. C. Sorel Comical Hist. Francion vii. 12 We being sate, and she likewise, Clerantes said [etc.].​
    [...]​
    1864 Ramsbotham Lanc. Rhymes 12 At th' eend o' th' day..aw'm sat at whoam.​
     
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