1

These lines are from an American sitcom. I come across "non completed sentences" a lot. I suppose this is how Americans speak informally.

A: His pants were too tight.

B: Yeah, yeah.

B: Hey, you know what else is too tight? Us working a case together. (B's old partner just came back to work a case together.)


C: I heard you scream out "I love this!" (B is being rebuked by his captain because B was beating another police officer,who was a dirt cop, while screaming "I love this!")

B: Yes.

B: "This" being justice.

  • 1
    What's the question, here...? – jimbobmcgee Jul 3 at 18:28
  • @jimbobmcgee I wonder how these gerund phrases work. Is there a way to explain them grammatically? – Talha Özden Jul 3 at 18:34
  • The question really has nothing to do with gerunds at all. "What do you like to eat?" "Apples." "What are you going to do now?" "Drive fast." – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 3 at 18:36
  • 1
    This word, gerund. I do not think it means what you think it means... The words ending in -ing are not being used in place of a noun in either of those highlighted sentences. – jimbobmcgee Jul 3 at 18:37
  • @jimbobmcgee "What do you enjoy?" "Swimming." There you go. ;) But, as I said, the use of a gerund doesn't really have any bearing here. It's asking more about the acceptability of so-called sentences that aren't technically complete. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 3 at 18:39
1

The two highlighted sentences are unrelated, so I don't think you can derive a definite common rule for both of them. They do both build on the context provided by previous sentences, which is why they can be understood by the casual listener—they could not reasonably be understood, if they were written on their own.

If you're looking for an explicit reason that the highlighted sentences are reasonable, the answer might simply be that we have a natural threshold for colloquialism—especially in sitcoms, which are typically built around informal interactions between people—but you wouldn't write either of them in a formal document.

They might be better described as tropes, since their structures are recognisable in other comedic performance.

In the first example, B is asking a question and immediately answering that question, in acknowledgement of the familiar circumstance. I think the term too tight is trying to imply that B is happy about the situation but it feels forced. It may an attempt to highlight one of B's character traits, if they are supposed to be conversationally awkward; otherwise, it it simply a bad line, hopefully smoothed over by the actor's confidence in delivery.

In the second example, B is explicitly trying to cover for a previous improper action. B knows that is not acceptable for a police officer to take part in (or approve of) a beating, regardless of the victim or motive, but they are hoping to convince C not to punish them, by suggesting that C has misinterpreted their shouting – B is not screaming that they love the beating (a perceptably bad thing); they are screaming that they love justice (a perceptably good thing).

Whether C ultimately allows B to continue working as a police officer will ultimately set the tone for the sitcom. I'll guess that the sitcom is ultimately a vehicle to showcase B's actor's "talent", so I expect they probably get away with it after some sagely admonishment from C (rather than the full weight of an internal investigation).

In any case, no gerunds were used in the crafting of those sentences. A word ending in -ing is only a gerund if it is replacing a noun.

  • 1
    Thanks, I thought that at least, the first phrase was a gerund phrase: Us working a case together [is what is too tight].- used as an subject of the clause. – Talha Özden Jul 3 at 21:35
  • @TalhaÖzden : I'm not an academic (and am happy to defer to one) but I think that in "Us working a case together", that the use of the pronoun us makes working a normal present participle. As I say, though, am happy to be corrected. – jimbobmcgee Jul 4 at 12:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.