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Can I use the word fit like this:

  • 'Pick an envelope that fits everything' as in Pick an envelope that is suitable in size and shape for all the papers you have to put in there
  • 'The tires won't fit my rims' as in The tires are too small/big/wide/narrow for my rims
  • 'Do you think the trunk fits all our luggage?' as in Do you think the trunk is big enough for all our luggage?
  • 'My car won't fit the space' as in My car is too big for that small parking space.

I caused quite some drama in a forum. For instance, someone said this:

I couldn't either, because subject-verb-object standard English word order causes that to be understood as "could one trunk be squeezed into all the different pieces of luggage.?" :confused:

or

To fit is either intransitive - My car fits into the space; or transitive - My car fits the space.

My car fits into the space - This has a nuance of motion -> my car will go into the space. My car fits the space. - This has the nuance of "the space is a suitable size for my car."

"The jeans won't fit you." could be interpreted as ... To fit does not mean "They won't look good on you." To fit does not mean "You won't fit into them"

To fit does mean "They are too large/small."

To fit -> to be a suitable size.

or

Pick an envelope which fits everything." is non standard, reversal of usual direction.

or

If one is buying a tire, and tries it out, one might find, "This tire does not fit my rims" just as "This hat does not fit my head." This is what I call reverse direction, which applies to some contexts.

See definitions 10 and 14 at W-R online, first and second, below: to be of the right size or shape for:The dress fitted her perfectly. to put with precise placement or adjustment:He fitted the picture into the frame. Note the variant of 1. She fitted herself into the dress with great difficulty. Second sense, above.

These answers contradict themselves. But if 'fit' means 'suitable' my example sentences are acceptable to say.

  • They may be "acceptable," but that doesn't mean they are not oddly worded, too. Perhaps they employ lesser-used variants of a particular word, or use a definition that's usually reserved for a different context. The phrase "fitting a dress" sounds quite natural, for example, due to alterations and tailoring. The phrase "fitting an envelope" seems more jarring. – J.R. Jul 29 '16 at 20:49
  • What should I say instead of ' The tires won't fit my rims' ? Could I say: I don't think the tires will fit on my rims?" – Chris Jul 29 '16 at 20:55
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'Pick an envelope that fits everything' as in Pick an envelope that is suitable in size and shape for all the papers you have to put in there

"Select/choose/pick an/one envelope that fits your needs/requirements/all of the papers."

'The tires won't fit my rims' as in The tires are too small/big/wide/narrow for my rims

Be specific and saying exactly what you mean. "These/the tires are too whatever for my rims." I think that sentence was fine, but clarity is always good.

'Do you think the trunk fits all our luggage?' as in Do you think the trunk is big enough for all our luggage?

" Will all of the/our luggage fit into the trunk?" Or, "Do you think the trunk is big enough for all our luggage?"

'My car won't fit the space' as in My car is too big for that small parking space.

That works, but again to be absolutely clear, say what you mean. "My car is too big for that parking spot/space." Or, "My big car won't fit in that small space." Or, "My car won't fit in that space because my car is too big." OR, "The parking space to to small to fit my car/for my car to fit."

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    Thanks for answering. Now that I've spent some time in the US (I believe I wrote the question before I moved) I'm realizing how badly I phrased those sentences haha. I would be more clear now and say it the exact same way you suggested. – Chris Feb 4 '17 at 18:11
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Your sentences are acceptable and will be understood. What you've done is truncate the preposition or prepositional phrase in each sentence. With the phrase added they all make sense.

Pick an envelope that fits everything [into it].

The tires won't fit [onto] my rims.

Do you think the trunk fits all our luggage [into it]?

My car won't fit [into] the space.

  • Thank you so much! Just to clarify it : Every time I can replace fit with suitable for size and shape or add the prepositional phrase to it, it's right? So I could say, I bought a new washing machine that will fit/fits all our dirty clothes with one load? Please correct the sentence structure if it's unnatural. – Chris Jul 29 '16 at 21:13
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    @Chris - There are ways to express the thought clearly without using the verb to fit, e.g.: I bought a new washing machine that will accomodate all our dirty clothes with one load, or I bought a new washing machine that will hold all our dirty clothes with one load. – P. E. Dant Jul 29 '16 at 21:50
  • @Chris - While I'm at it, two of your examples need only a preposition - not a phrase - added: The tires won't fit on my rims, and My car won't fit in the space. – P. E. Dant Jul 29 '16 at 21:53
  • @P.E.Dant But would it be wrong to use 'fit' in this sentence? – Chris Jul 29 '16 at 21:58
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    In situations where a listener can understand the relationship, you can freely use fit. So "Will this cage fit our elephant?" can only be understood one way. However, where the listener does not possess or cannot determine the relationship, the listener will often default to the A/B relationship. The question, "Does the microwave fit the box.?" is quite confusing if one doesn't know the size of the microwave or the box and as a result a listener would generally interpret your question as, "Can the microwave fit into the box?" and not, "Can the box fit into the microwave?' – EllieK Aug 1 '16 at 13:06
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X fit(s) Y means X can wear Y successfully, or that X and Y have complementary shapes and can interlock or other similar action. It can also mean Y can wear X successfully.

The dress fits me.

I fit the dress.

Both mean the same. There can be an implication that the direct object is what you are trying to fit the subject to.

X fit(s) can be reflexive, it's equal to saying X fits me or X fits myself, but it can also refer to an elided direct object, e.g. "I bought the dress for Cheryl. It fits! (= It fits Cheryl)."

X fit(s) in Y means Y is a container capable of successfully containing X.

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