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This is from a YouTube video.

My dad went with the steak and I went with the baby back ribs. It was a fitting only dinner in Texas for us.

Does the sentence in bold mean that it was suitable for the only dinner they would have in Texas?

If so, I think the sentence should be changed to 'It was fitting the only dinner in Texas for us.'

Am I wrong?

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    It means what you suggest. The sentence is fine without any changes. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 13:08
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    @MichaelHarvey - I don't think that sentence is fine. A fitting only dinner in Texas...? Did you read, A fitting dinner only in Texas,,,,?
    – EllieK
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 17:08
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    @EllieK - the sentence is a little awkward, but not incorrect. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 19:03
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    Paella was a fitting only meal in Spain (we were on a fast tour of Europe). Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 20:42
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    It was a fitting "only dinner in Texas" for us.
    – James
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 21:26

5 Answers 5

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I think what the narrator in the video says is "it was a fitting 'only dinner in Texas' for us".

I presume that the point he is making is that since Texas features only 175 miles of road of the famous Route 66, they will only have a single dinner there instead of multiple.

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    Ah Ha! Yes I think is what was meant and how it should be written.
    – EllieK
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 18:04
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    This should be the accepted answer. The sentence is basically "It was a fitting dinner for us." but with the noun 'dinner' padded out into the noun phrase 'only dinner in Texas'.
    – DotCounter
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 19:36
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It is badly phrased, so I'm not surprised that you struggled with it. But you got it right. Better would be e.g. "It was appropriate for our only dinner in Texas."

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    Or, to alter as little as possible, "it was fitting for our only dinner in Texas". Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 16:51
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    "It was fitting as our only dinner in Texas."
    – jsejcksn
    Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 6:10
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I haven’t watched the video for context, but if the author and his dad were only having one dinner in Texas (e.g. they were traveling through and stopped for one night), then steak and ribs would be a fitting choice.

Without a context like that, the sentence doesn’t make sense; the author made a mistake.

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This is an interesting linguistic phenomenon, and I'd be interested in someone with more linguistic expertise analyzing it. One of the distinguishing features of sophisticated language is its recursive properties; the rules of grammar can take basic linguistic units such as nouns and verbs and use them to form phrases that can themselves be used as linguistic units to form more complicated phrases.

In this case, though, recursion fails: the sequence of words "only dinner in Texas for us", is a noun phrase, and one can fulfill many of the functions of nouns. It can, for instance, be a subject complement: "This was the only dinner in Texas for us". But its use in this particular case to take the place of a noun fails.

I think that where the sentence you present runs into trouble is that the phrase is a restrictive phrase; that is, it defines a particular instance. This then demands a definite article. The indefinite article "a" doesn't go well with the word "only". The structure suggests a general category of "only dinner in Texas", and indeed different people can have different only dinners, so there is some sense in which there are multiple only dinners. Moreover, there are multiple dinners that could have been the particular speaker's only dinner, so there is a coherent meaning even with the "for us" qualifier. However, the contrast between the nonrestrictive "a fitting" and restrictive "only" remains quite strong. The sentence would be much clearer with hyphens more clearly grouping words into compound ideas: "It was a fitting only-dinner-in-Texas-for-us." Or if it were reworded, such as "It was fitting that that was our only dinner in Texas".

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The sentence would sound better with the word single instead of only:

It was a fitting single dinner in Texas for us.

The problem with only is that it function as an adjective or an adverb, so it can potentially modify several different words in the sentence, whereas single is clearly an adjective modifying dinner.

You say the sentence came from a YouTube video, so it was spoken. Here's how it could make sense written:

It was a fitting only-dinner-in-Texas for us.

Or with quotes as others have noted:

It was a fitting "only dinner in Texas" for us.

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