Why I won’t stand for misuse of sat

30 October 2012

Yesterday, a fellow copywriter tweeted about some kid on the bus who was driving her mad. Nothing wrong with that. Except in the way it was expressed. Said child was ‘sat’ on the bus.

Pet hate? No, this is a wild-animal hate. Nothing exemplifies the dumbed-down, GCSE-generation, lack of standards in education — just the sheer bloody broken Britishness — of today’s society than this heinous grammatical error.


So widespread has it become that anyone who deploys the continuous verb form correctly, using the present participle (the -ing form, as in ‘sitting’), is in a tiny minority. Let’s clear it up:

‘He was sitting on the bus.’
‘He sat on the bus.’

These are both correct. ‘He was sat on the bus’ sounds to my ears like someone swearing, and not just any swearing — this is C-word profanity. The same thing applies to stood and standing, other verb forms that are equally sinned against.

Look at it this way: would you say ‘I am gone to the pictures tonight’ or ‘He is flown with Easyjet today’?


It’s simple to grasp. Yet offenders include journalists from The Times and The Guardian, copywriters who command fees upwards of £800 a day, senior politicians and directors of major corporations.

What I find most embarrassing is when Brits come out with this on the national stage. Why? Because the US will be listening and, whatever other faults they might have, Americans can at least construct a sentence way better than the average Brit.

Let’s not stand for it any longer, eh?

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