Are these sentences correct:

1) In the doorway, a tall dark woman was standing.

2) In the bedroom, a tall dark woman was sitting on an armchair.

Do you interpret '2' to mean:

a) She was seated on an armchair.

or

b) She was in the process of sitting down on an armchair.

 

Gratefully,

Navi

 

 

Original Post
navi posted:

Are these sentences correct:
1) In the doorway, a tall dark woman was standing.
2) In the bedroom, a tall dark woman was sitting on an armchair.

Hello, Navi,

Yes, both (1) and (2) are correct, but I'd prefer "in" an armchair.

navi posted:
Do you interpret '2' to mean:

a) She was seated on an armchair.
or
b) She was in the process of sitting down on an armchair.

It means (a). It would mean (b) if it read "She was taking her seat in an armchair."

eliot

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Thank you very much, David,

How about these:

1a) In the doorway, a tall dark woman stood.

2a) In the bedroom, a tall dark woman sat in an armchair.

Do these work as well, or do we absolutely need inversion here?

And the two following sentences, on their own, are ambiguous, aren't they?

a) He was sitting.

b) He was standing.

We can't tell if we are describing a state or an action, can we?

Gratefully,

Navi

navi posted:

How about these:

1a) In the doorway, a tall dark woman stood.
2a) In the bedroom, a tall dark woman sat in an armchair.

Do these work as well, or do we absolutely need inversion here?

Hello again, Navi,

No, you don't need to use inversion, and you haven't. You have used topicalization, and it isn't necessary, either:

1b) A tall dark woman stood/was standing in the doorway.
2b) A tall dark woman sat/was sitting in an armchair in the bedroom.

navi posted:
And the two following sentences, on their own, are ambiguous, aren't they?

a) He was sitting.
b) He was standing.

We can't tell if we are describing a state or an action, can we?

Maybe in theory they are ambiguous, Navi. However, in actual practice, we would would use "He was sitting down"/"He sat down" if we wished to describe the process of taking one's seat, and "He was standing up"/"He stood up" if we wished to describe the process of, well, standing up.

Thank you very much, David,

Just to clarify, I thought one should say

1 b) In the doorway, stood a tall dark woman.

and

1a) In the doorway, a tall dark woman stood.

sounded bad.

That is what I was referring to when I mentioned inversion.

Gratefully,

Navi

 

 

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