“he was standing in the selfsame spot you're filling now”, the sentence refers to real place or role, or position?

@dennislv (134)
Shanghai, China
September 10, 2013 9:57pm CST
This sentence is hard to grasp its meaning... help me.
2 responses
@owlwings (38082)
• Cambridge, England
11 Sep 13
The sentence is rather poor English but, by using the word "spot" (meaning a physical location on the ground), it clearly means "He was standing in exactly the same place as you are now standing." Since a spot is a physical object, either real or imaginary, it would be more correct to say "on [the spot]" rather than "in". The preposition "in" is used for "place", "position", "location" and so on; a 'spot' (unless it is used in an idiom like 'beauty spot', where it means a location or an area) is a small, physical two-dimensional object, either real (as a mark painted on the ground or, for example, on a billiard table) or imaginary, on a surface and, since it is assumed to be small, one cannot usually think of something as being 'in' a spot. Although "selfsame" is a word with a venerable history, it is now considered rather antiquated or 'poetic'. Modern equivalents are 'exact', 'identical', 'exactly the same'. The juxtaposition of the ideas of "standing" and "filling" is odd (and unnecessary). The whole sentence shows that the speaker probably had two alternative ideas in mind and has mixed them up when uttering the statement.
2 people like this
@dennislv (134)
• Shanghai, China
11 Sep 13
I really enjoy your English.
@dennislv (134)
• Shanghai, China
11 Sep 13
But can "standing in" mean play someone else's role? Do as a stand-in or doubleganger? I guess it is saying:"You are playing the exact same role as he once was playing?"
1 person likes this
@owlwings (38082)
• Cambridge, England
11 Sep 13
@dennislv The verb "to stand in" (or the noun "a stand in") is an idiom and has a different meaning entirely. It is originally a short form of "to stand in [place of something]" but now it usually takes the preposition "for". The preposition "in", in this case is simply part of the verb. Compare these examples: "John was standing in for his manager when the hold-up took place." "Mary was working as a stand in for the star and that is how she got the job." "Fly fishing can often involve standing in water up to one's waist for hours." In the first two, the verb "to stand in" or the noun "a stand in" mean acting as a temporary substitute. In the last example "in" is a preposition governing "water". The sentence you quoted could, I suppose, be intended to mean than the person was filling a role but it is far from clear without extra context and the use of the word "spot" (which is usually a physical location, as I explained earlier) tends to suggest that this is not the case. The fact that you are having trouble understanding the sentence only helps to prove that it is ugly and poor English!
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@Bluedoll (17091)
• Canada
11 Sep 13
He was standing. = person in action, verb is standing, standing=doing You're filling now = you are filling, verb is filling, filling=doing in the selfsame spot = spot is a place, selfsame is an adjective describing the place, selfsame=same as your own self, as used in the sentence identical to another he/you It means another person has done what you are presently doing now. To say standing in means to carry on in the same way.
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@dennislv (134)
• Shanghai, China
11 Sep 13
what does "filling" mean here? It's quite confusing.