for size

(In the 2012 spirit of posting shorter posts, more often…)


Last weekend I went shopping in Edinburgh’s New Town for a new pair of boots. Usually shoe shopping is fun, but this time I was getting frustrated. It was my third attempt to find something decent, and I’d already bought and returned a pair. The trouble is that I’m a UK size 5.5 and boot sizes seem to not be available in half-sizes, so everything I’d tried on was either too big (6) or too small (5). Anyway, when I finally found a pair that did fit (European size 38, fwiw), I was happy to reply in the affirmative when the salesperson asked me:

“How do those fit for size?”

Which was a perfectly intelligible question, and to which I answered:

“Great, I’ll take them.”

Then a split second later, I thought, “Hey, that’s question’s not actually grammatical to me!” And then in the next second I thought, “But the sentence ‘Try this on for size’ is grammatical to me…” And then, following that, I thought “but that sentence actually has no literal meaning to me.”

The point being that, until that moment, it had never occurred to me that the original meaning of ‘Try this one for size’ would ever actually involve someone trying on something for, well, size! I assume other Americans have this intuition as well?



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4 Responses to for size

  1. Lawrence Shirley says:

    “Fit” might not necessary mean size. How do they fit in with your other clothing? How do they fit with your needs for foot protection? How do they fit with your sense of style? If we accept these others kinds of fit, then asking how they fit specifically for size would be OK.

    • vocalised says:

      Oh, it definitely makes sense and fills a gap, but I know I’d never say it in quite that way. I’d say “Are those the right size?” or something like that.

  2. Reminds me of another prepositional-phrase-where-I-don’t-expect-it question: “How do you feel in yourself?” I still don’t think I really get it, but I did blog it:

    • vocalised says:

      Nice! That’s a great example. I wonder how regional that is, because I don’t remember ever hearing that before, neither here nor Oxford. Then again, if it’s on a yog(h)urt commercial, it must be fairly common.

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