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    • Join Date: Sep 2005
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    #1

    'sit in' vs 'sit on' a seat

    Hi,

    This is a sentence from a book.
    "there were seats in buses which black people couldn't sit in."

    1. When do you use "sit in" vs "sit on"
    2. Is it correct to end the sentence this way, or
    is it better to say - "there were seats in buses in which black
    people could not sit"

    Thanks

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    #2

    Re: 'sit in' vs 'sit on' a seat

    I'd use 'on' there. We use 'in' for armchairs and similar seats, and 'on' for chairs that don't surround the person, but they can blur a bit.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: 'sit in' vs 'sit on' a seat

    Quote Originally Posted by englishstudent
    1. When do you use "sit in" vs "sit on"
    Additionally, for North American English "in" or "on" works. Bus seats -even though they do not have arm rests, still encompass or cup the person. "in" is short for inside. The bus seat, or rather bench, forms a small alcove-like area, one you get "inside" of.
    2. Is it correct to end the sentence this way, or
    is it better to say - "there were seats in buses in which black
    people could not sit"
    Either way works. To sit in and to sit on are pretty much set pairs. Traditionally, though, "in which" would have been more acceptable; there was this rule, "never end a sentence in a preposition". So, if some speakers today subscribe to traditional ways, they might use "in which", and they might not. Ending our example sentence in sit in or sit on is acceptable, not to mention less cumbersome than "in buses in which".


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    #4

    Smile Re: 'sit in' vs 'sit on' a seat

    Thanks tdol and casiopea for answering my questions.

    Reminds me of an old joke -
    A new student walks onto the campus and asks
    a professor - "Excuse me, where is the library at?"
    The professor says, "Young man, we don't end our
    sentences in prepositions!"
    The young guy says, "OK. Where's the library at, a****** ?"

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: 'sit in' vs 'sit on' a seat

    You're welcome.

    Cute joke.

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