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sit on seat vs sit in a seat



 
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sit on seat vs sit in a seat #1 (permalink) Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:51 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

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Hi everyone!
I was wondering if you could tell me a way to choose between "sit in" and "sit on" a seat.

I've seen some posts about sitting in / on an (arm)chair and I've come to the conclusion that, normally, it's "sit in".

I've just completed two TOEIC exercises which put doubts in my mind. Here are the sentences:

TOEIC listening part I, set 1, exercise 7

No one is sitting on the seats on the top of the bus

TOEIC listening part I, set 1, exercise 9

You cannot see anyone sitting in the seats

How can I decide between "in" and "on"?

Thanks!
Betty76
You can meet me at english-test.net


Joined: 30 Dec 2010
Posts: 67

sit on seat vs sit in a seat #2 (permalink) Mon Jun 20, 2011 13:05 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

Which preposition you use depends on the construction of the seat.

If it is a simple seat with no sides or arms, you sit ON it, just as you would sit on a stool.

If it is a big, comfortable seat, like one in a theater -- one that has arms and that you can settle your body into -- then you sit IN it.

So you sit ON a hard wooden seat with no arms, and you sit IN a big comfortable chair that your body sinks into.
Jamie (K)
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Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 6761
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA

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sit on seat vs sit in a seat #3 (permalink) Mon Jun 20, 2011 13:17 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

Hello, Betty:

(1) You have asked a question that confuses everyone. Before the language professionals answer, may I share a few thoughts?

Sit in/on a chair; sit in an armchair; sit on a sofa/couch/bench/stool.

(2) I agree with your conclusion: usually (at least here in the United States) it's "sit IN a chair."

(3) I would use "sit on a chair" only in special situations. For example, I remember seeing a photograph of a table and some beautiful chairs. The caption/cutline (words under the picture) said something like: "The leaders of five countries sat ON these chairs while discussing the end of the war." I cannot explain why, but I feel that the use of "on" gave the idea of "sitting" a more formal meaning.

(4) When I hear someone say "sit in a chair," I imagine him/her more or less in a relaxed position; when I hear "sit on a chair," I imagine someone sitting up very straight and being rather uncomfortable. Maybe that's just my crazy idea.

Let's see what the grammar experts tell us.

Sincerely,

James
James M
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Joined: 15 May 2011
Posts: 1941

sit on seat vs sit in a seat #4 (permalink) Mon Jun 20, 2011 13:24 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

For (3), I would say sit "in" the chairs. Again, it's all about the construction of the chair and how deeply you can sink into it.

I agree that you sit "on" the sofa, couch, davenport, chesterfield or whatever they call it in your town.
Jamie (K)
I'm a Communicator ;-)


Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 6761
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA

sit on seat vs sit in a seat #5 (permalink) Mon Jun 20, 2011 14:35 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

Thanks to both of you!

Now I understand why it's "on" a seat on a bus but "in" a seat when flying on a plane: airplane seats have arms (thank Goodness!)...
Betty76
You can meet me at english-test.net


Joined: 30 Dec 2010
Posts: 67

sit on seat vs sit in a seat #6 (permalink) Tue Jun 21, 2011 16:23 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

Either ˈiːər/ , / ˈaɪər / || / ˈiːə(r)/ , / ˈaɪə(r)/
Neither / ˈniːər/ , / ˈnaɪ- / || / ˈnaɪə(r)/ , / ˈniː-/

Hello everyone Im a little confused in how to pronounce these words in an appropriate way
Can anybody help me please?
Josazapr
I'm new here and I like it ;-)


Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 24

sit on seat vs sit in a seat #7 (permalink) Tue Jun 21, 2011 16:30 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

All of the pronunciations you wrote are appropriate. None of them are specific to any particular country, and sometimes people who live in the same neighborhood pronounce the words differently. Sometimes even individual people don't pronounce them the same all the time. You can just choose the pronunciation you prefer.
Jamie (K)
I'm a Communicator ;-)


Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 6761
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA

sit on seat vs sit in a seat #8 (permalink) Tue Jun 21, 2011 16:38 pm   sit on seat vs sit in a seat
 

Thanks a lot dear Jamie(K) I always was a little worried about that, but now I feel better
Josazapr
I'm new here and I like it ;-)


Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 24

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