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I wrote in an essay,

В зале стоял длинный стол с закусками, один из концов которого упирался в стену. Мы подошли к столу и стали за него садиться. Я подсела к стене.

My teacher marked the last sentence as a mistake. Why did he do so?

The main meaning of the verb подсесть is given in dictionaries as to sit down near someone or something. See, e.g., Wiktionary's definition:

сесть рядом с кем-либо, чем-либо, около кого-либо, чего-либо

Furthermore, Wiktionary illustrates this definition by the following example:

Засунув чугунок с картошкой в печь, она подсела к печи, сведённые простудой пальцы засовывала в самый огонь — грела.

So I am at a loss as to why подсела к стене is wrong if подсела к печи is perfectly fine.

In an attempt to find an explanation, I hypothesize that the true meaning of подсесть might actually be to sit down near someone or something with the purpose of interacting with or paying attention to that person or object. But this is just a hypothesis, and I never saw such a detailed definition in any dictionary. Maybe succinct definitions in dictionaries just do not capture that nuance, if it is there at all.

So let's see what native speakers have to say. Is my hypothesis correct, or why did my teacher mark my sentence as a mistake?

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    You are right. I think this is grammatically correct but stylistically imperfect. This sounds like "I had nobody to interact with so I decided to make friendship with a wall". You have a very strict teacher. – Anixx Jan 4 at 13:36
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    Yet I think a special context could justify it - yes, by interaction! Я подсела к стене и вставила в розетку вилку висевшего над столом светильника. – Alex_ander Jan 4 at 19:42
  • correct sentence is "я села у стены" – DMYTRO Jan 8 at 7:00
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    @Alex_ander or Я подсела к стене с окошком и заглянула в него. – Anixx Jan 8 at 18:06
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You didn’t have a purpose of interacting with the wall so you can’t use подсесть in the situation. You just sat down near/close to the wall.

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I don't understand why don't you just ask the teacher but whatever, I'm not trying to discourage you from asking questions here - it's just that teacher clearly knows better what was his/her reasoning.

Anyway I want to say - it looks like your teacher is actually a very good teacher understanding all subtle nuances.

The error you've made is not grammatical but indeed rather stylistic. One indeed can say "подсесть к печке", "подсесть к окну" etc but in your case however you've mentioned that everybody started to sit down. You've described a regular process of people get seating and the next sentence sort of assumed that you are involved in that process yourself.

"Сесть" would be the most expected verb in this context. Compare following sentences:

  • Мы все пошли усаживаться. Я села у стены.

and

  • Мы все пошли усаживаться. Было очень тесно, и я подсела к стене.

Also, the thing is that for a native speaker "подсесть к стене" is associated with the act of seating right, directly next to the wall, leaning to the wall in a seating position, most likely on a floor.

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