She sat VS She was sitting

Discussion in '英語勉強フォーラム - Learning English' started by hirashin, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. hirashin

    hirashin Sempai
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    #1 hirashin, Dec 5, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
    Dear native English speakers,

    would both be used in each case? If so, what's the difference in meaning?

    (1a) She was sitting in the chair with her legs crossed.
    (1b) She sat in the chair with her legs crossed.

    (2a) Shocked at the news, Mary was just standing there.
    (2b) Shocked at the news, Mary just stood there.


    Thanks in advance.

    Hirashin
     
  2. hirashin

    hirashin Sempai
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    Would anyone help me with the usage of "sit" and "stand"?
     
  3. mdchachi

    mdchachi Moderator
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    To me, both sound perfectly fine and both would be used. I can't think of any difference in meaning.
     
  4. Michael2

    Michael2 後輩

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    Again, you need context for a lot of the sentences you ask about, Hirashin, and especially for progressive sentences because by definition they can't exist in isolation;something else needs to be happening to justify them being progressive. I would agree that both (1) sentences would be ok, but if you said, "She was sitting in the chair, with her legs crossed, when John burst into the room." only the progressive form would be correct.
    As for (2) I would beg to differ with mdchachi and say only 2b makes sense. If you use the progressive it implies she was already just standing there before she heard the news, but the meaning of the sentence is surely that hearing the news shocked her into not being able to move. She was shocked, then she just stood there. She was wasn't just standing there already.
     
  5. hirashin

    hirashin Sempai
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    Thank you very much for the help, mdchachi and Michael2.

    Michael, you may be right. But unfortunately, I cannot always give context because some sentences I ask about are from the grammar textbook we are supposed to use. Each example sentence has no or little context. Teachers are supposed to explain each sentence. But I'm not good at English enough to explain all of them. That's why I ask a lot of (silly) questions here.

    Do you say (1c) and (1d) with the same meaning?
    (1c) She sat in the chair when the TV show started.
    (1d) She was sitting in the chair when the TV show started.

    How about (1e) and (1f)?
    (1e) She sat in the chair all afternoon.
    (1f) She was sitting in the chair all afternoon.

    I'm not sure in which case the two structures are interchangeable.
     
  6. Julie.chan

    Julie.chan 後輩

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    No. 1d means she was already sitting in the chair at that time, and 1c means that that time was when she sat down.

    Yes.

    It depends on what sort of time frame you're talking about. If it's a particular moment, then usually they're not. If it's a duration of time, usually they are.

    That's really tricky because sentences don't work in isolation. I don't think it has to do with your skill in the language; I couldn't explain each sentence you've presented here, either. If anything, anyone who could concisely explain a single out-of-context sentence is just not experienced enough to know how little they know.
     
  7. Michael2

    Michael2 後輩

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    No problem Hirashin, ask away. I'll try to help as best I can. I understand the problem with context. The problem though is that progressive sentences especially probably need context to determine whether they are appropriate or not.

    If I were you I would tell your students that the difference in 1c and 1d is most important. If you use the progressive form for a verb (She was sitting) then that action was already occurring when the simple past action happened, like 1d where the woman was already sitting in her chair when the program started. However, if you use a simple past verb form (She sat) then that action happened after the action in the when... clause, like in 1d where the woman probably sat down in order to watch the TV program.

    I think the difference in 1e and 1f is much more subtle. Again, with no context I would ask why the progressive form was requied at all so I would naturally say 1e, but past progressive is often used to emphasise the action so if you said "She was just sitting in the chair all afternoon while I did all the cleaning!" I would understand why you'd used it. There is some good information here, past continuous | LearnEnglish - British Council
    but in my opinion 1e and 1f contain very subtle nuances in difference which are almost irrelevant overall. The difference between 1c and 1d is very important though.
     
  8. mdchachi

    mdchachi Moderator
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    I agree however I still think it's possible to say 2a with the same implication. Like
    => Shocked at the news, Mary was just standing there [frozen].
    Not everything has to be said explicitly.
     
  9. hirashin

    hirashin Sempai
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    Thank you for the further help, julimaruchan, Michael2, and mdchachi.

    Michael2, I have a question about two sentences in the website you linked.
    (3a) The children did their homework when I got home.

    Is (3a) different in meaning from (3b) , (3c) or (3d)?
    (3b) The children were doing their homework when I got home.
    (3c) The children had done their homework when I got home.
    (3d) The children had been doing their homework when I got home.

    (4a) At eight o’clock I wrote some letters.
    Does (4a) sound right?
    It takes some time to write some letters. Can you write more than one letters at eight o'clock?
     
  10. Michael2

    Michael2 後輩

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  11. Michael2

    Michael2 後輩

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    For me it's about the fact that it's her reaction to the news that initates her shock, in the same way that upon hearing news you don't use "going to", you use "will", but I agree if there was a lot more context to the situation it might be possible.
     
  12. hirashin

    hirashin Sempai
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    Thank you for the further help, Michael2. Now I understand.
     
  13. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    I love happy endings... :emoji_point_up_2:
     

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