What exactly one mean when they say "stood standing" in a sentence?

Brace yourself...


"Mr. rumbold, I have a complaint, and I am unanimous in this! We've been stood, standing, waiting downstairs for that lift, and it wasn't working..."

One more:

"Oh, I'm worn out to start with. I have stood standing in the bus all the way

And a similar:

"We have been sat, sitting here for half an hour and nothing arrived, except you"

Is this phrase grammatically correct, or might it just be a script error? Can you please explain when this type of emphasis can be used, and if it's commonly being used?

  • 1
    I suspect that it's an error by the actor or character; they started to say "We've been stood" and then corrected themselves. "stood standing" isn't something you would normally say in English.
    – stangdon
    Apr 17, 2017 at 14:52
  • @stangdon I see. I asked this because it happens more than once (Yes, it's sad, but i'm a big fan of AYBS)
    – Alon Eitan
    Apr 17, 2017 at 15:00
  • 1
    That's all wrong, not with equal words, no. You can, however say: We have been standing, looking at the ocean. Apr 17, 2017 at 16:04
  • I liked it when Mrs. Slocombe said, "We've been stood standing." I interpreted it to mean "left" or forgotten about, ignored, as in the similar expression "stood up". It's actually a great expression.
    – Parker
    Apr 5, 2020 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


These repeated usages from the television series "Are you being served?" are probably a literary device to suggest that the speaker lacks education.

That said, this NGram shows that usage in written English is rare but has risen consistently since the 1850's apart from during the two world wars, and is more common in American English than British English.

Typically, stood functions as a verb in the sentence and standing is used to attach an adjective that describes the way in which the person is standing. Here is a typical example:

He stood standing still next to the oak tree, next to which Dronian was buried. Dreamweaver - Nicole Weisensee (2011)

Most instances are run of the mill fiction, but there is one notable exception- one John Keats, maybe exercising a bit of poetic licence:

Until he reach’d the great main cupola;
There stood standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot,
And from the basements deep to the high towers
Jarr’d his own golden region Hyperion book 1 - John Keats (1820)

Note that stood has been edited out from some editions.

  • Perfect! Thank you for having this research for me and solving the mystery once and for all
    – Alon Eitan
    Apr 17, 2017 at 17:21

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