LINGUIST List 7.940

Thu Jun 27 1996

Sum: progressive of _sit_, _stand_ and _lie_

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. hiro-t, Summary: the progressive of _sit_, _stand_ and _lie_

Message 1: Summary: the progressive of _sit_, _stand_ and _lie_

Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 12:51:00 +0200
From: hiro-t <>
Subject: Summary: the progressive of _sit_, _stand_ and _lie_
Dear Linguists,
 I was asked to post a query on this list by my coleague in mid-May. I have
received his summary and original query below:

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Original query:
 I have two questions to ask about the progressive of _sit_, _stand_ and
 First, I ask you why (5) is acceptable. When these verbs are used in
progressive forms, it is generally
agreed that the subject must be a moveable thing. That is why (3) below is

 (1) She was sitting in an armchai by the fire.
 (2) The bottle is lying on its side.
 (3) *Lybia is lying between Egypt and Tunisia.
 (4) the book is standing on end.

 But even when the subject is not moveable, the progressive of _stand_ is
possible when an adverb like _still_ is added, as in:

 (5) After the bombing, only three building were still standing.

I want to know the reason.

 Secondly, I would like to know if the following sentences with progressive
of _stand_ are acceptable or not:

 (6) The new office building is standing at the corner of 5th Avenue and 47th
 (7) The tree is standing in the garden.
 (8) The statue was standing outside the hall.

 Soon after that, I got eighteen e-mails. thank you for answering my question.
I would express my sioncere thanks to the following people who supplied useful

 J. DeChicchis, L. hartman, A. Cormack, M. Hansheng, S. Schaufele, G.S. nathan
 M. Haman,
 D.T. Davis, R. Cosper, H.F. Schiffman, A. Wechsler, Tony, B. Griffiths,
 M. Milosavljevic, F. Gladney, P. Daniels, P. de Lacy and Anonymous

With (5) four respondents said that _still_ is not obligatory. Some emphasized
the temporary nature of buildings.

 As to (6)-(8), the result of inquiry is as follows:

 OK ? * no answer
 (6) 2 4 10 2
 (7) 3 4 7 4
 (8) 6 3 4 5

 The acceptability of (8) is greater than the other two. One respondent said
that statues can bemoved fairly easily. I think when the subject, even if it is
immoveable, is small, the progressive is possible because it can be moved

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks a lot. Please post me directly further on these matters.

Hiroaki Tanaka, Tokushima University, Japan
1-1, Minamijousnajima, Tokushima, 770, Japan
Tel. & Fax +81 886 56 7125
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