I don't know if I can ask about this in this site. But anyway I'll give it a shot. (This question is a spin-off from EL&U.)

Here is a skit from a radio English conversation program, dealing with American English.

A: guest B: front desk clerk C: A's wife

(at the front desk of a hotel)

A: I have a reservation for a room under the name of Hal Lloyd.

B: I can't seem to pull up your reservation. Do you have a confirmation number?

A: It's 7228.

B: Here it is. We don't have any more standard rooms available. I'm going to put you in our deluxe room with a kitchenette.

A: That's fine with us.

(in the deluxe room)

A: The room is decorated very tastefully.

C: It's very nice! I'm going to sit down in this plush sofa and read.

I hear that some people say C's “I’m going to …” line is a little strange. I'd like to know the reason why this sounds strange and how you would feel from the sentence in detail. Also, I'd like to know what words you would use to rewrite it as a scriptwriter.

I'd appreciate it if you could help me.

  • 5
    You "hear that some people say" - I don't get this. Some people have said that about this exact context? Because it sounds fine to me. Can you actually find the people who said that it sounds strange, and ask them what the problem is?
    – Kate S.
    Jun 29 '11 at 11:05
  • I think it reads awkward but sounds fine when spoken aloud. Jun 29 '11 at 14:27
  • @Kate Sherwood – Um…sorry… I was dishonest. 'Strange' might have been overstated. And 'some people' might've been, too. 'Two people' is right. I might have asked them, but I thought it could expand my question. Also, I thought rewriting request might not be allowed in EL&U. Would you happen to have some advice about how(or where) to ask in this case? I got lost, really. (Well, I know, of course, you feel the sentence is fine.)
    – user1969
    Jun 30 '11 at 1:43
  • @PortableWorld – Your 'awkward' feeling is what I’d like to know. Well, come to think of it, it might be really subtle to explain. I think when I'm asked about natural things about my mother tongue, I would be confused.
    – user1969
    Jun 30 '11 at 1:43
  • 1
    @Kate Sherwood – I appreciate your big support. Your commitment brought me a fruitful session. Thank you so much! / @everyone – I learned a lot from each of you. Thank you!
    – user1969
    Jul 1 '11 at 2:31

The English is fine, but as Janet at EL&U said, it does feel artificial. Not because of the phrasing, but because of the content - C is announcing her intention to do something very uninteresting (sit down and read), and is pointlessly explicit in describing the sofa. Most people wouldn't feel the need to announce something like that; they'd just sit down and start reading.

Now, in language lessons, artificiality is par for the course - you want plain, simple, clear sentences, with focus on the words you're trying to teach, and not too many difficult words besides the ones you're teaching. Linguistic eloquence is not a major factor, so this piece would be fine. (Also, most actors could pull this line off just fine without even seeming artificial - it just takes more consideration than the casual reader will give it.)

If you really want a plausible rewrite, either strike the line entirely, or put in some obvious reason for the line, or perhaps some character:

  • It's very nice! I'm going to sit down in this plush sofa and read - will you come sit with me?
  • It's very nice! Let's not unpack right away - I want to sit down in this plush sofa an read for a while.
  • It's very nice! And look what a beautiful, plush sofa - oh, I just want to curl up in it with a good book this very moment!

First of all, there's nothing wrong with the English itself, so I wouldn't change it for that reason.

The only reason I can think of that would make it strange is if the meaning conveyed doesn't match what happens next. "I'm going to sit down in this plush sofa and read" suggests this is something C's about to do, particularly because she said it when she saw the chair.

If this is not the case, then "I'm going to" would come across a bit odd. In my opinion, "going to" in this case does not suggest a distant future intention. For example: "You're going to drop those dishes" suggests it's something about to happen based on a visual clue.

Therefore, perhaps something like "I can't wait to sit down in this plush sofa and read" would work a little better in conveying something she wants to do, but isn't going to right now. Or, "I'm going to sit down in this plush sofa and read at the first chance I get." Or, "I'm going to sit down in this plush sofa later and read."

Just one thing I wanted to mention: "sit down in" is what I actually find odd in this sentence. "sit down on" seems more correct to me, because "sit down in" implies you're "in" the sofa performing the act of sitting down, like you sit down in a waiting room, or sit down in a lounge.

  • I'm okay with "I'm going to" for distant future actions. "What are you going to be when you grow up?" "I'm going to be a space fireman!"
    – Kate S.
    Jun 30 '11 at 10:21
  • @Kate - Sure, I'm okay with that too, but the point I was trying to make is that in this case the visual clue suggests a more immediate action to take. Jun 30 '11 at 10:35

I think this is better suited for EL&U, but if you say this is a spin-off (you haven't provided the link), I'm fine with that.

As far as I can say, there is nothing wrong with your sentence and it does not sound strange. But maybe the "people who say this", prefer the Present Continuous to express this future task (sitting down and reading).

I'm sitting down on this plush sofa and reading.

According to esl.about.com, "going to" is used for distant future intentions.

  • – It was very kind of you to answer the question, and sorry about my odd question. (Oh, I should have provided the link, shouldn't I! Please look at my comment above.)
    – user1969
    Jun 30 '11 at 1:46
  • Is it just me or does "I'm sitting down on this plush sofa and read." make no sense in the context of this piece? "sitting" implies it's something you are doing right now, so it doesn't convey a future action. And shouldn't it be "reading", not read? Jun 30 '11 at 9:32
  • I agree that it should be 'reading', but I disagree that there's no potential for future action with the 'sitting' construction. eg. "What are you doing?" "I'm sitting down on this plush sofa," she said, crossing the room to the most comfortable seat, "and reading." But I do prefer the first construction. "I'm going to sit down on this plush sofa and read."
    – Kate S.
    Jun 30 '11 at 10:20
  • @Kate - as I mentioned, it makes "no sense in the context of this piece". Didn't say there's no potential for it to make sense. Your example only makes sense because of the previous question ("What are you doing?"). In the context of this piece, it doesn't make sense. "C: It's very nice! I'm sitting down on this plush sofa and read." See what I mean? Jun 30 '11 at 10:39
  • Thanks for pointing out the "reading" error, @Craig, but I do not get your problem with the "sitting" part, sorry. Jun 30 '11 at 13:18

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