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I'm new to writing. English is not my native. I'm so confused. I wrote six versions of the same sentence, but still I feel none of them is good. I don't know what's wrong exactly, but I feel like very poor writing possibly with grammar mistakes also. Please help me to understand why these are not good, and a better way to write. My objective is to keep it short but convey the meaning without grammar mistakes. Is my style of writing is very bad?

  1. Mike is sitting on a dining chair and coloring something on a paper.
  2. Mike is on a dining chair and coloring something on a paper.
  3. Mike is coloring something on a paper, sitting on a dining chair.
  4. Mike is sitting on a dining chair and coloring a paper.
  5. Mike is on a dining chair and coloring a paper.
  6. Mike is coloring a paper, sitting on a dining chair.

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  • What you're suffering now is called Semantic Satiation - you're overthinking a perfectly straightforward and simple sentence and noticing errors where there are none. (note sitting in a chair is roughly twice as common as sitting on one, so not error but less than optimal phrasing.) – SF. Feb 9 '14 at 8:51
  • @SF. So you are saying, it's just because of "on" instead of "in"? Other than that, there is nothing wrong? I still couldn't feel good about the sentences – T2E Feb 9 '14 at 11:50
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    I'm not a big fan of dining chair. I'm not alone. Also, I'd take out the a before paper. We either color "on paper,", or on "a piece of paper." Hence: Mike is sitting in his kitchen chair, coloring on paper. – J.R. Feb 9 '14 at 18:47
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    @T2E: Well, I pictured Mike to be a kid, and the chair differently sized. If it's any chair, it can be 'a chair' just fine. The only matter is of 'on'/'in'. – SF. Feb 11 '14 at 13:34
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    Absent any other context, I would interpret "sitting in his dining chair" to mean "sitting in one of the dining chairs in his home," while "sitting in a dining chair" would mean "sitting in a dining chair anywhere." So, yes, I agree with @SF, but I think T2E's point is valid, too. – J.R. Feb 11 '14 at 13:38
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I would go with: "Mike is sitting in a dining chair, coloring on a piece of paper."

source: Native English speaker & ESL teacher.

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    No comma after chair? – J.R. Feb 9 '14 at 21:30
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Mike is coloring a piece of paper whilst seated on a dining chair.

If you transform the sentence to past tense midway through, it sounds better because it no longer sounds like Mike is performing the action of taking a seat, and coloring at the same time.

  • In your example, seated is a past participle, not a past tense form. – snailboat Feb 11 '14 at 23:03

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