"Has me and the wife in fits every time."

8

Found this in a YouTube video and people were commenting on his, apparently terrible, English skills.
What's wrong with the sentence “Has me and the wife in fits every time?”

Martim Costa

Posted 2015-02-12T12:05:30.760

Reputation: 123

6

It could be "in fits of laughter".

– CowperKettle – 2015-02-12T12:11:27.733

Hello and welcome to the site! As so often context is the key. if you have a question like this, consider adding a link to the video, because I assume this sentence is not all that was said? – Stephie – 2015-02-12T12:22:50.257

This is from a YouTube comment and not the actual video. link to the comment

– Martim Costa – 2015-02-12T12:41:59.567

1In short nothing. As most of the comments to the video say as well, by the way:) – oerkelens – 2015-02-12T13:52:10.123

The reason people are complaining about the wording is that they probably didn't make the connection between "in fits" and "in fits of laughter". Without realizing that the intention is "fits [of laughter]" it seems to almost be a string of random words. – Doc – 2015-02-12T21:22:54.333

To my (somewhat pedantic) ear, there is something not very flattering about the term "the wife" - a sense of a disowned, inanimate chattel, rather than a named, valued human. – Mark Setchell – 2015-02-13T14:42:20.770

Answers

11

Okay, there are two flaws with this sentence:

  1. In English, it is generally considered polite to put yourself last in a list (assuming the list includes yourself). So the phrase would be "the wife and me" rather than "me and the wife".

  2. The sentence is not grammatically correct because it has no subject. It should be, "IT has the wife and me ..." But leaving off a trivial subject like "it" is often done in informal English. If I was an English teacher and this sentence was on a term paper, I'd probably give a minor mark down for it. But in conversation, probably no one would notice.

As others have noted, "fits" is a short form of a common phrase, "fits of laughter", meaning we were laughing so hard that it almost resembled an epileptic seizure. I don't think I'd call that "wrong" in any sense, it's just abbreviated.

Jay

Posted 2015-02-12T12:05:30.760

Reputation: 51 729

Makes me laugh because this correction was one battered into my brain by my grandad. Not the case! – codinghands – 2015-03-30T19:49:17.973

@KirkWoll "I was". "I" is singular, and therefore calls for a singular verb, such as "was". – Jay – 2015-03-31T13:08:58.247

@Jay, you should familiarize yourself with the subjunctive mood. – Kirk Woll – 2015-03-31T13:19:32.147

In conversation people could notice but it wouldn't be wrong, since in conversation you don't have to use complete sentences. Just like writing ;-) – Steve Jessop – 2015-02-12T16:19:06.377

@SteveJessop Just like writing what? ;p – Alexander – 2015-02-12T18:13:40.127

@SteveJessop Good point. :-) – Jay – 2015-02-12T18:30:51.437

It’s perhaps worth noting that, while certainly not formal, eliding the subject like this is also not very informal. Even in a lot of fairly-formal contexts, it would be fine. – KRyan – 2015-02-12T19:42:49.140

1Not "the wife and I"? – codinghands – 2015-02-12T20:35:49.280

7@codinghands If the other person weren't mentioned in the sentence, would using "I" be correct? If not, it wouldn't be correct with their inclusion either. "Has I in fits [of laughter] every time." is grammatically incorrect. "Has me in fits [of laughter] every time." is correct, so when adding the second person (the/my wife) you would use "and me". – Doc – 2015-02-12T21:25:41.363

Fair enough I guess :) (just to push me over 15 chars!) – codinghands – 2015-02-12T22:09:15.973

"If I were an English teacher" ;) – Kirk Woll – 2015-02-12T23:16:02.183

1@codinghands Ditto Doc. "I" is used for the subject of a sentence; "me" for the object. In this case the proper subject is "It" (or "The video"), "It has me", "me" is the object of "has". – Jay – 2015-02-13T14:09:20.700

7

If you read the rest of the comments, you will see that most people actually attack the guy that said it was wrong.

The best comment that summarizes it all is that there are three mistakes, two of them about capitalization and the third is a forgiveable mistake in word order.

Looking at the original comment, we can see those mistakes and fix them:

had to share this. has me and the wife in fits every time....
Had to share this. Has the wife and me in fits every time...

No big deal, just someone who for no clear reason thought the sentence was terrible, a bunch of people stating there is nothing wrong with it and some people who managed to find something wrong because they wanted to find something. Another day on the interwebz.

oerkelens

Posted 2015-02-12T12:05:30.760

Reputation: 24 925

4

The video is a scene from the comedy "22 Jump Street".

So yes, in this case the comment is short for "in fits of laughter".
-> An idiomatic phrase that means "to laugh a lot", "to laugh convulsingly".
It could also stand for "in fits of giggles", which has basically the same meaning.

There is another idiom with fits, "in fits and starts", (see also here), with a totally different meaning. Both originate in definition no.2 of "fit", meaning "seizure" or "burst".

Stephie

Posted 2015-02-12T12:05:30.760

Reputation: 14 048

0

There is nothing wrong with it. It means "he has me and the wife cracking up all the time." In other words: he makes us laugh a lot.

Michael Martinez

Posted 2015-02-12T12:05:30.760

Reputation: 184

0

This is all very strongly idiomatic usage, and should probably be avoided if there is any doubt at all about the correct tone to use.

The omitting of the object as "(It )has...", the use of the idiomatic "the wife", the use and truncation of the idiom "in fits( of laughter)"... it all lends a very casual, conversational air to the line, and also a strongly regional, Northern-England sound.

Idiom needs careful handling, else it sounds just plain wrong. For example, the suggestion of placing the casually idiomatic "the wife" into the stiffly formal "x and me" construction seems quite jarring to my ear, and I know of no dialect in which it would commonly be used in this way.

Google ngrams shows the "the wife and me" form to be far rarer, and I'd argue that the fact that the other form exists at all likely owes more to the prescriptivist hypercorrections of editors (and possibly use in sentences like "me and the wife of...") than it does to the native idiom of the authors:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=me+and+the+wife%2Cthe+wife+and+me&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15

Dewi Morgan

Posted 2015-02-12T12:05:30.760

Reputation: 564