I saw some people who were in the process of standing up. So they were not 'standing' up yet. I was wondering if you could refer to them as people standing?

For example, Can " people standing were old" mean "People getting up were old"? I'm asking this question because I know it is possible for "to be standing up can mean both", but I'm not so sure if the same applies to a phrase like "people standing"

  • First sentence -- no, you cannot, because they are not standing. They are getting up. Second sentence -- no, because they are already standing up (that is, they had already fully gotten up). May 26, 2021 at 20:54
  • thanks for your comment, but when you say "I was standing ip", it can mean you were getting up, Am I wrong??
    – Karl
    May 26, 2021 at 21:02
  • @Karl: "I was standing up" can mean that, but it's ambiguous. Saying "I was just standing up when/as..." makes it clearer that you were getting up. You could say they were getting to their feet, rising to their feet, struggling, jumping or leaping to their feet, though jumping and leaping may be risky if they are old! There are examples of "to one's feet" at Lexico. May 27, 2021 at 4:24
  • @Karl Yes, that is incorrect. I was standing up does not clearly mean that you were getting up, so why would you ever say it that way? In the US, at least, people don't use standing up to mean they were getting up, so there isn't any confusion. May 27, 2021 at 14:17
  • I see, Thank you so much I just thought that way because the dictionaries stated that definition of to stand lol
    – Karl
    May 28, 2021 at 5:03

1 Answer 1



The participle adjective "standing" or "standing up" means "Be in an upright position". This is how we would understand "He is standing"

The process of standing is very short. You wouldn't use the present continuous to mean "in the process of standing". I suppose you could use it to mean "repeatedly standing" (Compare this with "He is jumping") But that is a very odd thing to do.

If you really need to use a continuous form you could say "He is rising from his seat".

As the President was rising from his seat, a protestor threw a shoe at him.

Similarly "standing up" is a particle adjective and means "be in an upright state"

The boys were all standing up and chatting as the teacher came into the classroom.

This doesn't mean that the boys were rising from their chairs; it means that they were upright.

When you say "I am standing up" it does not mean "I am rising from my seat".

  • 1
    I would say "I am standing up" could mean "I am rising from my seat". Maybe this is a thing that varies from place to place. But in Karl's example "standing" is ambiguous, it could mean "already standing" or "getting up", so "getting up" or "rising from their seats" is definitely better.
    – A. B.
    May 27, 2021 at 1:41
  • thanks for your comment! Yes, I guess even though dictionaries say it can mean "to rise", it seems it's not a very popular way to use the verb to stand. Thank you all!!
    – Karl
    May 28, 2021 at 5:04

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