Angela’s ABCs: sat/sitting and stood/standing
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a trend these days for people to say ‘I was sat’ instead of ‘I was sitting’ and ‘I was stood’ instead of ‘I was standing’.
What they are doing is using the past participle when the present participle is needed.
Some would say that this is a ‘non-standard grammatical form’, possibly originating in the north of England, while others would say it is wrong.
×I was sat there all on my own until the others came.
×I was stood at the bus stop when a van came by and splashed me.
There is often an implied element of complaint, or sometimes of anecdote, when the above construction is used, but whatever the situation, the sentences should read:
I was sitting there all on my own until the others came.
I was standing at the bus stop when a van came by and splashed me.
English verbs have two participles as mentioned above:
1. The present participle is used to form continuous (sometimes called progressive) tenses such as:
- present continuous: I am sitting
- past continuous: I was sitting
- present perfect continuous: I have been sitting
- conditional continuous: I would be sitting
2. The past participle is used to form simple perfect tenses such as:
- present perfect: I have sat
- past perfect: I had sat
- future perfect: I will have sat
- conditional perfect: I would have sat
Examples of participle formation include:
verb past simple past participle present participle
to say said said saying
to have had had having
to sit sat sat sitting
to stand stood stood standing
to be was been being
to sing sang sung singing
to write wrote written writing
to eat ate eaten eating
to see saw seen seeing
to finish finished finished finishing
to kiss kissed kissed kissing
I think some comedians, and maybe I’m thinking of Victoria Wood or Les Dawson used to start some of their jokes by saying, ‘I was sat sitting…’ or ‘I was stood standing…’, thus confusing the issue further by using both past and present participles together.