What is the difference between zijn and staten/zitten?
They seem to be able to be used interchangeably in certain situations and it would be great if someone could explain the difference to me.
Dank je wel!
Those are posture verbs, you can replace "zijn (ben, bent, is, zijn)" with a posture verb (staan, zitten, liggen), I found this example from a post on DutchGrammar forums which I'll copy and paste here:
- Het boek ligt op tafel
The book is on the table.
- Het boek staat op de plank.
The book is on the shelf.
- De was zit in de droger.
The laundry is in the dryer.
- Mijn auto staat om de hoek.
My car is (parked) around the corner.
There's more on the discussion here from the source: http://www.dutchgrammar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=3577 :)
Some rules of thumb.
Staan a) things that can (potentially) fall over, or b) are in a standing position:
- a standing person
- a book standing up
Liggen a) things that cannot fall over, or b) that are already in the fallen over or flat position and c) things in a lying position:
- table on its side or upside down
- a lying person
- a book lying flat
Zitten a) things inside other things and b) things in a sitting position (people, animals, dolls, robots, etc.)
- the eggs are in the box = de eieren zitten in de doos
- a sitting person
There are exceptions (het bord staat op tafel) and specific situations (iets ligt in het water), but the above rules of thumb cover the majority of things.
BTW staten = states, staan = to stand