Number one for English language teachers

Matura: Writing: Sport

Level: Upper intermediate Type: General lesson plan

In this lesson focusing on sport, students learn how to describe the benefits of sport and how to use persuasive language.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Hi Orme,

    'Sat' is used globally this way so it would be perfectly acceptable to teach it to your students as part of TOEIC and TOEFL exams. Another verb which is often used in the same way and tends to indicate an action which doesn't involve progress or movement is 'stood':

    I was stood at the bar, chatting to my friend, when... - CORRECT

    The traditional, standard usage would be:

    I was standing at a bar, chatting to my friend, when... - CORRECT

    Both sentences are perfectly acceptable and in fact, the former is very common when describing background actions to a story.

    Compare this to an action which involves an element of progress and movement (the verb 'to walk') and you can see why one sentence is possible and the other is not:

    I was walked down the road the other day when... - INCORRECT

    I was walking down the road the other day when... - CORRECT

    Of course it is possible that teaching these non-standard verbs will result in students being initially more confused. However, they are now part of the language so it is worth raising students' awareness of them.

    Again, I hope that helps.

    Best wishes,

    The onestopenglish team

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  • Thanks for the reply. Is it just in the UK that sat is used in this way? I don't want to teach my students something that may cause them problems in, for example, TOEIC anad TOEFL exams.

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  • Hi Orme,

    Many thanks for your comment. The answer to your question is more stylistic than grammatical.

    The basic answer is that this usage of the verb 'sat' is non-standard. It is used because it feels less active than 'sitting'. It is intended to imply a lack of progress in the action which the progressive aspect would give it. In this context it is appropriate because it describes a lack of energy/movement/motivation within the action.

    When compared to your example, 'played' followed by 'video games' is neither appropriate or correct as it implies action and motivation so the progressive aspect is necessary.

    However, as mentioned, this is a non-standard usage and some grammarians disagree with it (as you can see in the following article):

    http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/10/continuous-tenses/

    The new usage used to be part of regional dialect in the UK which is now becoming more widespread. The opposite stylistic choice can be seen by McDonalds using a state verb in a progressive manner: 'loving' instead of 'love' in their advertising.

    It's an interesting subject as it highlights the fluid, changing nature of languages.

    I hope that helps clear up any confusion.

    Best wishes,

    The onestopenglish team

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  • "adults complaining that teenagers
    aren’t active enough and spend all their time sat in
    front of computers"

    I'm surprised that 'sat' is used here. Sat is the past simple or past participle of 'to sit'. Shouldn't it be 'sitting'? You wouldn't say 'teenagers spend all their time played video games'.

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