This is a bit of a rant, but I need to get it off my chest.
I seem to have read so many published books and articles lately, which contain phrases such as he was stood outside, she was sat in the kitchen. It’s driving me mad – every time I see this kind of thing it pulls me out of the story and makes my blood pressure rise.
‘was stood’ and ‘was sat’ are never right. It should be: He was standing outside, or He stood outside. And: She was sitting in the kitchen, or She sat in the kitchen.
No one makes this mistake with the past tense of any other verb, do they? I’ve never seen things like ‘He was ran across the field’ or ‘They were swam in the sea’.
I get that it’s a colloquialism, and therefore in dialogue you might use it if it would be natural for your character to do so. ‘He were sat right on top of t’mountain, by gum.’
But not in general prose. I’ve been trying to think of any way in which this kind of construction could ever be correct. The only example I can think of is this:
The cleaners had obviously been moving the ornaments. The china dogs were stood one at each end.
Now I write that, I’m not even sure it’s correct. Even if it is, it’s passive voice so better rewritten as: The cleaners had stood the china dogs one at each end.
What grammatical errors wind you up the most?