Сидеть, стоять, лежать

by Olga Godwin



If you tend to spend hours on end in front of the screen, your Russian mama would berate you for sitting in the computer (Целый день сидишь в компьютере!)  As one of those pre-historic humans who still remember how life was before the Internet, she could be a little worried seeing you physically present in the room while your mental self is inside of your digital device.


You may eventually feel like changing your position for a while. Get up, do a couple stretches standing up. Lie down on the floor, do some twists. Get up and sit down again.


And now that you are back to your favorite position, you can take advantage of it and learn a few interesting facts about the verbs сидеть (sit), стоять (stand) and лежать (lie).


What does your car do at the parking lot or in the garage? In Russian, it is standing there: Машина стоит на парковке/ на улице/ в гараже. And how about your book on the shelf? Is it sitting there? Nope, it is standing, too: Книга стоит на полке. Of course, if you didn't place it horizontally. Then it is lying: Книга лежит на столе.


As you must have guessed, if an object is somewhat tall and is put upright, in Russian we describe it as standing. If it is flat and is in a horizontal position, we say it is lying. Ваза, чайник, стакан, чашка стоят на столе. Вилки, ложки и ножи лежат.

And how about the plates or a frying pan? They are rather flat, aren't they? Они лежат? Нет, дорогой друг, они стоят! No intention to drive you crazy, I promise! It's often difficult to guess how something works in a different language, some things you have to just observe and remember. 


And what can sit, after all?  Objects in Russian do not sit on surfaces, but your dress хорошо на тебе сидит if it fits you well.  

Sounds too complicated? Then think about the English word upright mentioned above. Why is it not upLEFT or upSTRAIGHT, huh?


Signing off for now and leaving you, dear reader, to muse about the strangeness and beauty of human languages. Take care and stay tuned!