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I just spent an hour reading about sentences like this:

I am sat here.

She was stood there.

In this question people tackle whether it's correct usage or not, which is not the point of my question.

Few people would argue that "I am done here" is non-standard English. 'Done', the past participle of 'do', is listed in the Oxford Dictionary of English as an adjective, so it's easy to see why "I am done here" is standard.

The verbs "sat" and "stood" are both past participles, but they are not listed as adjectives in the same dictionary. Are they acting as adjectives in the two example sentences?

  • It's not that easy to see why 'I am done here' is standard but 'I was stood' isn't. 'I was stood up' is acceptable. And 'I am come' is acceptable if old-fashioned to archaic. The be-perfect is still occasionally used today. 'Early Modern English used both have and be as perfect auxiliaries. The usage differs in that to have expressed emphasis in the process of the action that was completed, whereas to be put the emphasis in the final state, after the action is completed. Examples of the second can be found in older texts: ... I am come in sorrow. (Lord Jim, Conrad)' [Wikipedia] – Edwin Ashworth Mar 13 '15 at 12:52
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An intransitive verb is one that cannot take a direct object. Normally, intransitive verbs cannot be made passive.

The past participle is normally passive (except with have).

From this it follows that intransitive verbs, like sit and stand in the senses intended, normally cannot have past participles without have.

However, there are some intransitive verbs that are best considered idiomatic exceptions: they can still have past participles. You could say those exceptional past participles don't have the normal passive sense. You might call them adjectivised, but I'm not sure I'd pick that term, considering that sat and stood cannot be used attributively (before the noun).

I am sat here.

She was stood there.

We are agreed.

She was gone.

There are more.

  • 1
    I really appreciate the time that you spent breaking that down for me. Thank you. I've got a much better grasp of this now. – Kit Johnson Jun 26 '14 at 8:37

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