Could you please explain why the infinitive that means "to be in a position in which the upper body is upright and the legs (especially the upper legs) are supported by some object" is to be sitting but not just to sit. What is the difference between both infinitives?


"To sit" is the infinitive, "To be sitting" is actually the present continuous tense, which is generally used to refer to the act of remaining seated. "To sit" is in the present simple, and it refers to the act of sitting down.

"I sit on the chair" sounds like you're talking about the act of sitting down, while "I am sitting on the chair" unambiguously refers to the fact that you are currently on the chair.

  • Actually, "I sit on the chair" sounds to me like you're sitting on there chair. Other than that, though, I like this answer. – J.R. Jan 15 '16 at 9:09
  • @J.R. - if Natalia's question is about the lexical aspect differences between "I sit on the chair" / "I am sitting on the char", then telling that "sit" denotes only the action of assuming a sitting position would be wrong, IMHO. – CowperKettle Jan 15 '16 at 9:17
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    @CopperK - Oh, I agree. That "only" part you refer to is the key to the mystery. That said, I don't agree with this way this is worded: "I sit on the chair" sounds like you're talking about the act of sitting down – it doesn't sound right to me. Moreover, "I am sitting on the chair" could mean that I'm in the act of sitting down, and it's not as "unambiguous" as this answer claims. In short, I think this is on the right track, but it needs some polishing. – J.R. Jan 15 '16 at 9:42

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