6

I often use the expression

Where do you sit on the second floor?

Where does the clerk sit here in this building?

Obviously I use the verb sit to mean location?

What is your location at work?

'Sit' expression is the exact translation of the phrase I would use in my native language.

So Is my expression idiomatic?

Edit: If it is not, what is idiomatic phrase to say it

  • By idiomatic, you mean the most natural way to express your idea in English, right? If you could confirm that this is correct (or incorrect), it would help clarify your question. Unfortunately, idiomatic can mean more than one thing, and I think J.R. interpreted it the other way in his answer. – snailcar Sep 12 '13 at 18:01
  • 1
    I meant what would a native speaker say? @snailboat – Dude Sep 12 '13 at 18:27
2

I would say that it's only idiomatic if the person doesn't normally sit at their workstation. Hence, in the context of an office, it's not idiomatic, but, in the context of a salon (where the hairdressers generally stand while they work), then it could be considered idiomatic.

The real question is, are there contexts where you'd use the phrase "where someone sits" if they are not generally sitting down in that location? For example:

The pickers take their baskets to the roadways, where the foreman sits with several women and a number of baskets of about a bushel capacity lined with canvas.

Does that foreman have a chair at the side of the road? If not, I may have just found the phrase used as an idiom.

That all said, if you want to ask where somebody works, then asking:

Where do you sit on the second floor?

is perfectly fine.

  • Wait. Why is it only idiomatic to ask where they sit if they don't normally sit? I'm confused. – snailcar Sep 12 '13 at 16:51
  • @snailboat I think he means it's just a question if you're asking where they sit (ex "Where is Jill's desk?"/"Where does Jill sit?") but it's a "set phrase" that means "where is Jill located" if the word "sit" is used in contexts where people aren't actually sitting (you just want to know where they're located). "Where does the desk sit?" (Okay, I could have probably thought of a better example for the last one, but it eluded me.) – WendiKidd Sep 12 '13 at 16:57
  • 1
    Oh, I get it. My definition of idiomatic here was "(linguistics) (of language) grammatical and natural to native speakers of a language" (Collins), but J.R. meant "a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the constituent words, as for example (It was raining) cats and dogs" (ibid). I think Tim is using the former definition, not the latter; he presumably wants to know what the natural way to ask his question is. – snailcar Sep 12 '13 at 16:59
  • My car sits in the driveway. Is that really "idiomatic"? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 12 '13 at 17:23
  • 1
    ...unless we're getting highly figurative, in contexts like where you sit in the hierarchy, with no real possibility of it being interpreted literally. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 12 '13 at 18:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.