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    #1

    sit, lie, or stand - when used about things

    Hello,
    I'm puzzled with the following problem. When do we use 'sit' and when do we prefer 'stand' or 'lie' when talking about things?
    E.g. The jug stands / sits / lies on the shelf (the difference I can see is with 'lie' only - it's lying on its side (--), not in vertical position (l).
    The book stands (l) / lies (--) / sits (???) on the shelf (what's the specific meaning of 'sit' here?).
    The lamp stands / sits on the table (are both variants correct? what's the difference?).

    What is the specific meaning of 'sit' in all situations like that? When should it be used and when preferred? Are there any situations where it shouldn't be used as an equivalent for 'stand'? Which of them is more popular?

    Thanks for your help in advance!

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: sit, lie, or stand - when used about things

    I am not a teacher.

    As a general rule of thumb, if something is elongated like a bottle or a lamp - and in an upright position - we could say it is standing, or if it is flat like a newspaper - and in a horizontal position - we could say it is lying. The choice of the verb could also add something to the description of the thing as being squat or thin, and so on.

    However, in English, to say where something is we very often simply use the verb 'to be'.

    I don't know anything about your language unfortunately but in Dutch, which is my second language, lying, standing, sitting and hanging are used much more and follow quite rigid rules. If you were to translate them back into French, for example, you would almost always use 'to be' in each case. English is a little more flexible than that (and more closely related to Dutch) so we do use sit and stand.

    I would probably only use 'lie' for a jug if saying, 'a jug lying on its side' or similar. I wouldn't worry too much about a lamp standing / sitting on the table. If it's short and squat you could use either, if its tall I would probably say it's 'standing'. If in doubt, just say 'it is on the table'.

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    #3

    Re: sit, lie, or stand - when used about things

    Thank you, dear Roman55. I see that kind of difference clearly, but the verb 'sit' is still a bit of a puzzle to me. Does the verb itself already presuppose a "short and squat" form of the thing? What kind of things is it usually used with then (in terms of inanimate things, naturally)?

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: sit, lie, or stand - when used about things

    I am not a teacher.

    You are welcome tyrp.

    I don't want to invent a rule where there isn't one.

    Trying to find examples, which aren't fixed phrases, when 'sit' is the only choice is not easy. In fact I can't think of any.
    I would usually say that pots and pans sit on the stove, but I might also use 'stand'.

    In conclusion, I really think that for all intents and purposes they are interchangeable.

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