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There's a case in which a woman fell into the water. A key witness is missing. The female officer wants to focus on the case itself, but another male officer wants to focus on finding the missing witness.
She asks, "what if we couldn't find the witness?"
He answers, "we'll go ahead and give the jury what we have."
She replies, "What you have and two-fifty will get you on the E train"

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What does that mean?

  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because it's nothing to do with the English language as such - it's just a matter of understanding sarcasm and the local public transport context. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 27 at 11:34
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica, actually no. If it didn't James K, I wouldn't know two-fifty is $2.50. I had thought it maybe refers to money, but I thought it's $1.00. – Zhang Jun 27 at 11:51
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica, and the most important implication -- what he has + $2.50 = a train ticket -- it's a kind of expression I've never thought of. – Zhang Jun 27 at 11:54
  • That's as may be. But as an expression I don't suppose it's got any meaningful "currency". Indeed, for all I know, James's flippant off-the-cuff alternative With what you've got and 99p you can get a burger at MacDonalds might actually have been said more often in the real world (regardless of the fact that James himdself might never have encountered it; he just "reinvented the wheel" because it was an obvious thing to come up with in context). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 27 at 12:32
  • I've certainly heard something like this "in the wild". There was a question about "repairing and reformatting a broken SD card" and the advice was "with your broken card and $8 you can get a new card on amazon" (or something similar) – James K Jun 27 at 13:54
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I assume this is set in New York.

The E train is the name of a New York subway line (it runs from downtown Manhattan to Queens). The cost of a ticket is $2.50 (or rather "was" from March 3, 2013 – March 21, 2015, as the cost now is $2.75)

The woman is being sarcastic. She is insinuating that the man has no evidence. She says "with what you have + $2.50 you can buy a subway ticket." Since the cost of a ticket is $2.50, this means "what you have" is worth absolutely nothing.

You can make lots of variations on this, all you need is something that most people know the cost of, so you could say "With what you've got and 99p you can get a burger at MacDonalds."

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    I first heard it, decades ago, as "[something considered worthless] and twenty-five cents will get you a cup of coffee". – Michael Harvey Jun 27 at 12:46
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    "something that most people know the cost of" - or something that most people can guess has the cost mentioned. – Michael Harvey Jun 27 at 12:48
  • How is that sarcasm? – Acccumulation Jun 27 at 22:21
  • @Acccumulation you know, I was wondering the same thing. There must be a name for this kind of figure of speech. "Innsinution" "Innuendo" ? It feels sarcastic, but when I try to put my finger on why, it slips away.... Suggestions? – James K Jun 27 at 23:18
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This is a completely commonplace joke in English:

Note that each time you make the joke, you do it with something different.

It sounds funny with any cheap item you can think of.

  • "With what you've got and one dollar you buy a whole donut."

  • "What you've got and 10 cents is worth one whole toothpick."

  • "What you've got and two bucks you can buy a black coffee."

  • "What you've got plus a dollar-fifty will get you a candy bar if you're lucky."

  • "Take the value of your talents, and another 30 cents, and you can go buy an apple at the supermarket."

The point of the joke is .. "you have nothing."

You can instantly find references to this everywhere, eg

https://www.yourdictionary.com/that-and-a-dollar-will-get-you-a-cup-of-coffee

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  • It may be completely commonplace wherever you come from, but in the UK I have never heard anything similar in my whole life. (But I have learned two things about Americans in that lifetime: 1, they don't speak English but a different language with the same name, and 2, they have their own weird sense of humo(u)r!) – alephzero Jun 27 at 22:39
  • It's completely commonplace in the UK, and I also hear it constantly when in the US. And furthermore, commonplace Americanisms (y'all etc) and indeed Brit-isms (cuppa?) are known worldwide for decades now, notably due to movies (eg, as in the question). I' – Fattie Jun 27 at 23:16
  • I'm sure you haven't "heard" "Yippee kay ay, muthafucka" or "I'll be back" actually "in the UK", but any average modern person is familiar with such phrases. – Fattie Jun 27 at 23:17
  • It's very sad when downvoters downvote due to not having heard common phrases, just anotrher bizarre problem on this site. EVERY idiom dictionary lists this totally commonplace-ism yourdictionary.com/… – Fattie Jun 27 at 23:19

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