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I know "It's impolite to sit down with your elbows rested on the table." is correct, which just sounds pretty well to me, but I had also seen some sentence like "AUDREY is sitting on the floor of her room with her back resting against her bed." (Source:Resting Sentence Examples. I added "with" in the sentence myself.)

So if I use "resting", then the sentence becomes:

It's impolite to sit down with your elbows resting on the table

But some how it is strange that both "rested" and "resting" are available in this sentence with the exact same meanings, so I am confused here.

Cautions edited: the source provider of "It's impolite to sit down with your elbows rested on the table." told me that it is more appropriate to use "resting"

So "rested" might be wrong now... but is it wrong? (Consider it as "being" rested by me?)

  • I'm just curious: where did you find "It's impolite to sit down with your elbows rested on the table."? – Damkerng T. Apr 24 '14 at 8:28
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    @Damkerng T. In an exam paper, probably be made up by purpose. – CYC Apr 24 '14 at 9:05
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"Rested" is the simple past form and the past participle of the verb to rest. It would be used in sentences like:

She rested her elbows on the table before speaking.

or

Rested from her journey, she began again.

"Resting" is the present participle of the verb "to rest." It would be the most idiomatic form to use in your first example:

Her elbows were resting on the table while she was speaking.

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The verb rest is special in one respect: the meaning of the verb can change when you turn it into a past participle. Normally, a transitive verb gets a passive meaning when turned into a past participle, and an intransitive verb cannot be turned into a past particple; but rested can remain intransitive and not become passive as a past participle.

I walked to Santiago.

*Walked to Santiago, I was tired.

This is not possible with walk and most other verbs.

My elbows rested on the table.

Rested on the table, my elbows hurt.

Agree is another example:

We agreed about the next step to take.

We are agreed.

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Well, in these both cases, when you use resting it's the process going on (as it's specifically told that the scene is that, describing how the girl is sitting). On the other hand, when you are talking about the manners, you generally don't need the present continuous as that's not the only time when that manner tip is applied. So, let it better go with past participle making it the truth forever.

It's impolite to sit down with your elbows rested on the table -teaches the table-manners; 'resting' may work but then it may become a process of 'resting' your elbow there. Using 'rested' defines the posture of that manner.

And,

AUDREY is sitting on the floor of her room with her back resting against her bed - is a 'scene' of something and needs to describe 'how is she sitting', it's more about her action of doing that'.

  • "...with your elbows rested on the table" just sounds totally wrong. The idiomatic and correct way to say that is with "resting", not "rested". Unfortunately, this means I must downvote this answer. – Martha May 1 '14 at 17:08

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