I just came back from school, and I was asked about my trip to school this morning (on our school bus)

My intention is to say that I didn't like it because I had to sit with a bully (named John). I don't want to give any further details like "I was sitting next to John and then he pinched me and kicked me" - this is NOT what I want to say. I just want to give a short reason why the road to school was a bad experience for me today. Which should I choose?

I didn't like it because:

  1. I was sitting next to John on the bus
  2. I sat next to John on the bus

My questions:

a) Wouldn't number 2 imply I willingly came to his seat and took a seat next to him?

b) Do you perceive "sat" (in this context) like a singular, momentary action that happened in a matter of seconds, as if I walked up to his seat and took a place next to him or more like an action that lasted for a while? (probably until we got to school)


(a) Yes, it could imply that you sat down next to John voluntarily.

(b) I sat could mean that you were seated next to him for the whole journey.

If you had no choice but to sit next to him (there was no other seat, or he came to sit next to you) you could say I had to sit next to John or I found myself sitting next to john.

  • thanks, you've made things much clearer for me. Are both answers idiomatic and correct, though? – Dmitriy Jun 29 '20 at 22:23
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    If you mean (1) and (2), yes; but neither makes it clear that you had to sit next to John. – Kate Bunting Jun 30 '20 at 8:05
  • what if I change the action to "tell stories" or "smoke" Will the past simple still be the best option? He told stories the whole road to school He smoked the whole road to school? – Dmitriy Jun 30 '20 at 9:13
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    I didn't say that the past simple was best, I just answered your questions. In this context you can use either tense, for the other verbs as well. However the whole road is not idiomatic. He smoked/was smoking all the way to school. – Kate Bunting Jun 30 '20 at 10:38
  • I am sorry, I got the idea of "the best" from another person in comments. Thank you so much. Are "was smoking / smoked all the way to school" equal? Do I have to use some interruption after "was smoking" or it's not obligatory in this particular context? by interruption I mean "he was smoking all the way to school but then the driver noticed it and told him to stop". Is it obligatory to add past simple after "was smoking" in this context? Or it can be just " I didn't like the trip, he was smoking all the way to school." (the end) – Dmitriy Jun 30 '20 at 12:31

a) Not really. It doesn't imply but, at the same time, it doesn't means you sat by his side willingly.

b) In this context, this could mean it happened in a matter of seconds as well it happened during the whole road to school. It depends of your interpretation. My tip is that you specify that you passed the whole road to school by his side, for example:

I sat next to John on the bus the whole road to school.

To finish, in my opinion, the second option is the best to say what you want.

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