What's the most common way to ask someone, if a particular seat is already taken (of course other than asking:"is this seat taken" or "is this seat free"?)

I mean what sounds more natural and what is more common "someone" or "anyone" (both of them are correct, but which one is more common and more likely to be spoken out of the two?)

Is someone sitting here?

Is anyone sitting here?


The most common way that I have heard is simply just as you said, to ask, "Is this seat taken?"

After that, in my experience would be:

"Is someone sitting there?"

"Is anyone sitting there?"

"Is there someone sitting there?"

"Is that seat free?"

"Is it OK if I sit there?"

in approximately that order of frequency. All sound fine, and are easily understood. I'm sure there are lots of other possibilities too. Perhaps the ones that are used most would depend on the region and type of English.

Normally though, I personally think you would use "there" or "that seat" rather than "here" or "this seat", since you aren't yet taking "possession" of the seat, and it is still at some linguistic "distance" from you.


Most common "Is anyone sitting here".. but both are ok.

  • 2
    Will you please explain why you assume that your answer is correct? – virolino May 18 '19 at 5:34
  • @virolino, My reason is nothing more than an office consensus of five native speaking coworkers. – Señor CMasMas May 20 '19 at 16:02

"is this seat taken"

"is this seat free"

Is someone sitting here?

Is anyone sitting here?

All these questions are correct. However, they ask for different information.

"is this seat taken"

"is this seat free"

These questions actually ask if the seat is "reserved" for anyone. They imply that there is nobody sitting on the chair, but maybe some person might return soon to claim it back.

Is someone sitting here?

Is anyone sitting here?

These questions want to ask the same thing as the previous ones, but they fail. The listener is forced to assume what you want. If the listener does not want to make assumptions to help you, he will assume (at least) one fo the following:

  • you are visually impaired, and you want to avoid sitting on anyone's lap;
  • you are making a bad joke;
  • you are a bit crazy;
  • anything else.

Therefore, the answer has a good chance to be radically different from what you expect.

  • Lol, what are you on about... Is anyone/someone sitting here? is normally taken to mean ~"Is this seat taken?". – user3395 May 19 '19 at 16:20
  • Yes, it is "taken to mean"! But what does it mean exactly?! I know many people (myself included) who would not hesitate to answer the asked question instead of the intended question. Of course, we would not "play" this joke with some older unknown people, but otherwise... :) I presented that answer to also show how "bad" humans speak (in any language, for that matter) and how big a miracle it is that they still understand each other. – virolino May 20 '19 at 5:33
  • There is no "mistake": the meaning of an utterance normally depends on its surrounding context. It's not instructive to interpret it in isolation. Do you seriously think the asker doesn't know the literal meaning of the utterance at issue? – user3395 May 20 '19 at 9:16
  • It should not be my responsibility to guess what the asker wants, just because he prefers to ignore the real meaning of what he tells. – virolino May 20 '19 at 9:27
  • ...except they literally say in the first sentence what the intended meaning is. – user3395 May 20 '19 at 11:22

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