This question keeps me awake at nights.

Please, don't suggest that I've made a mistake and mistook 在坐 for 在座. I know what 在座 is. I dont' care about it.

I need to know a logical reason why 在坐 is never used in chinese. If it were used, I would have translated it as taking a seat and 坐着 as being in a sitted state.

You know, just like other pairs work:

  • 在穿 - dressing vs 穿着 - wearing
  • 在摆 - arranging smth vs 摆着 - being in an arranged state ,
  • 在睡 - falling asleep vs 睡着- sleeping
  • 在挂 - hanging smth vs 挂着- being in a state of hanging

P.S. I've found a great site which allows one to search chinese text corpus for 在坐 occurances: http://bcc.blcu.edu.cn/zh/search/1/%E5%9C%A8%E5%9D%90

  • Somewhat related: What does the zhe 着 after a verb do?
    – blackgreen
    Sep 14, 2020 at 22:55
  • You'd better give an example in which 在坐 is wrong and 坐着 is not.
    – dan
    Sep 14, 2020 at 23:55
  • I'd guess it's the same for 在住, 在放, and 在站 too, à la Special cases of "zai" following verbs.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Sep 15, 2020 at 1:41
  • @dan, ` 在坐` is a rare match in baidu search enginge, most natives I've asked said it's wrong to use 在坐 vs 坐着. Yes, there are some examples (rare) of 在坐 usage but it's never in the sence of "taking a seat"
    – coobit
    Sep 15, 2020 at 7:28
  • @Becky李蓓, the link you gave explains different thing. IMO, has nothing to do with durative aspect which is being talked here.
    – coobit
    Sep 15, 2020 at 7:30

5 Answers 5


[在 + v] = in the act of carrying out the action. e.g. 在穿衣服 (putting on clothes)

[v + 着] = the actions is in a continuous state. e.g. 穿着衣服 (wearing clothes/ the clothes is being worn currently)

More examples:

警察在打人 - the police is in the act of beating up someone

警察打着人 sounds strange because unlike 穿着衣服 (wearing clothes) which can be easily in a continuous state, (you can keep wearing the clothes while doing other activities.) 打着人(beating people) means the beating is in a continuous state. Generally, the verb in [v + 着] is a non-action verb, for example, 看,聽,想,吃,坐 ,站. While action verbs like 打,跑, 射 do not work with 着 easily

I need to know a logical reason why 在坐 is never used in chinese. If it were used, I would have translated it as taking a seat and 坐着 as being in a sitted state

在坐 sounds strange because 坐 is a static verb. 在 requires an active verb. 穿 can work with 在 and 着 because 穿 can be a static or active verb

Note: [V + 着 + V] is a different structure, meaning the two actions occur simultaneously, e.g. 警察笑着打人 (the police is beating up someone while laughing); 跑着射擊 (shooting while running)

  • dang, A question I was actually capable of answering. Save us the soup! Sep 15, 2020 at 0:31
  • 1
    @小奥利奥 Why don't you write an answer too? You might explain it better than I do
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 15, 2020 at 0:44
  • @小奥利奥 A side: what's "save us the soup"?
    – dan
    Sep 15, 2020 at 1:16
  • @dan Part of an expression I often see used in 武侠. I found this example from googling, "“常山阴大人,你终于出来了!不知道大人在里面,有什么收获呢?”潘平神情阴郁,立即走上前来。意思很明显,你狼王吃肉,总得让我们喝口汤水吧!" The full expression is typically "you can have the meat (good stuff) but you should leave us the soup (scraps) Sep 15, 2020 at 3:22
  • 3
    @dan He jokingly complained I answered all the easy questions., not giving others the chances to answer them.
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 15, 2020 at 3:50

Why 在坐 is wrong?

我在穿衣服 我穿著衣服

我在坐飛機 我坐著飛機

在坐 - 在一般使用上已經被擴大延伸,不再只是字面上「坐著」的意思而已,例如可用於表示在搭乘某種交通工具,而搭乘這些交通工具時,某種程度上就隱含坐著的意思。


我在坐計程車 我在坐公車 我在坐捷運 我在坐船 我在坐火車

我坐著計程車 我坐著公車 我坐著捷運 我坐著船 我坐著火車


  • Yes, I understand 我在坐飛機 could be translated "sitting in the plane" BUT why it 在坐飛機 is never used to convey boarding a plane?
    – coobit
    Sep 15, 2020 at 7:23
  • is there any logical difference between 我坐著公車 and 我在坐公車 ? I mean, could we ask questions which will make those sentences different in their consequenses?
    – coobit
    Sep 15, 2020 at 7:35
  • 2
    坐 in 坐著公車 is not 坐(sit) but 坐 (ride); both 坐(著)公車 and (在)坐公車 means 'riding bus')
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 22, 2020 at 23:46

在+v:the action is in progress; v+着:the aftermath/effect of an action is still there. The key is the action. Some verbs are without action: 是、有、喜欢、见、到...;definitely can not use either one. Some verbs are very short actions, may last only 1 or few seconds: 站、坐、...;they can't use 1st kind, only the 2nd. Please be very strict about this: 1. some verbs can be both, 坐 in "sit" can't, but in "take (transportation)" can. 2. verbs like 来、去 are not action verb, they are state verbs denoting purpose without action. They need other action verbs to reach the purpose: 走、跑、...etc. This group can use 2nd one only. Only the true action verbs can use both, and they literally deserve both: 他坐着看电视。 他正看着电视。

  • 1
    By the way, 他正在来的路上。is entirely different case. 正在 are tow different terms here 在 is the v. (what I like to call "key word") means "to be at/in a place/location...etc. and 正 is adv. means precisely. Nothing to do continuous/progress. I always teach my students the method of deduction to understand a sentence, especially long one. Take out words/phrases one by one till the sentence doesn't make sense any more, then, you got the basic structure for better understanding. In this case: 他在路上 is the answer. Sep 16, 2020 at 0:44
  • Ok, I've heard that verbs denoting state can't have 在 before them, but the 在挂,挂着 and 在写, 写着 are valid pairs? 挂 is pretty static (be in the state of hanging). I tought that 在 and 着 can somehow change the nature of the verb they modify, but it's not the case. :( Some verbs can't change their nature and the reasons for this stubbornes escape me.
    – coobit
    Sep 16, 2020 at 7:10
  • 挂 is exactly the 2nd kind of action verb: the action takes just few seconds, impossible to catch the "progress", hence can's use 在. 写 on the other hand, is a continuous action. Also, all verbs can't be changed in the sense of nature and function, but can be further explained. That's why complements are so many. Very unique among all the languages that I know of. Sep 16, 2020 at 12:10

Seems like there is some correlation with so-called intransitives and the lack of 在坐。

You can't "arrive someone".
*I am arriving you.

You can't "go something".
*I go / am going London.
I am going to London.

You can't "lie something".
*I lie the bed.
I am lying on the bed.

You can't "sit something".
The children sit the lawn.
The children sit on the lawn.

Chinese often uses '在 ... 上', '在 ... 里' 等等。Maybe, when no noun is expected, our brains expect a '上' or '里', so Chinese won't use ‘在坐’。

There is no absolute mapping between Chinese and English:

I can't 'vote you'. But in Chinese I can ‘投票’。

Every single person voted.
I am voting.

But 我在坐飞机/地铁/公交。is acceptable Chinese as far as the people I know are concerned, so 在坐 is possible. (it may be 乘坐 however, who knows what is left out!)


is there any logical difference between 我坐著公車 and 我在坐公車

我在坐公車 and 我坐著公車 have pretty similar meanings.

To emphasize ON THE BUS/PLANE/....

Q: 你在哪?我在坐公車。(I am on the bus NOW)

Q: 你在幹嘛? A:我在坐飛機。(I am on the air plane NOW) Q: 坐飛機去哪?(Where are you flying to?) A: 去美國。

To emphasize other actions rather than (or related to) THE BUS/PLANE/....

我坐著飛機,到世界各國旅行。 (travel around the world by air plane)



我在坐飛機 could be translated "sitting in the plane"

Literally, yes, it looks like "sitting on the plane". But that should be realized with "ON THE AIR PLANE" rather than SITTING on the plane.

If you wish to emphasize the action of sitting, you can say 我在飛機上坐著.

boarding a plane

We usually use 登機 or 上飛機. e.g. If you see "登機中" at boarding gate, it means passengers are allowed to board a plane. When you are already on the plane, you can say 我在飛機上 我在坐飛機 我上飛機了。

  • What do you think this sentence 我坐飛機,到世界各國旅行 means if some native told you: "No there is no mistake here."? or it's valid in any case?
    – coobit
    Sep 15, 2020 at 8:56
  • @coobit If you say 我在坐飛機, it means you are on the plane 「NOW」. 我在坐飛機,到世界各國旅行 , it's odd but understandable. If you use 我坐著飛機 would be more accurate, because an air plane flight have specific destination (e.g. Tokyo). 到世界各國旅行 could be anywhere. 我在坐飛機,到世界各國旅行(I am flying to THE WORLD???) Sep 16, 2020 at 0:13

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