fitting/suitable/appropiate/proper

loureed4

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi all!,

I´m reading a text, and I saw the word "fitting" whose meaning I could guess, but despite that, I looked it up in the dictionary.
It said the meaning was: suitable, appropiate, proper (adecuado, apropiado) .

I used to use "suitable" in my Speaking a lot , so, ...is "fitting" a synonym of "suitable" ?

I mention this because I saw the word in this text: "It´s altogether fitting and proper that we should do this" . So, this sentence contains "fitting" and "proper" , is that not kind of redundant? . In advance I have to say that I think it is not because it is from a Abraham Lincoln´s speech, but I´m just curious about this, though if the nuance is so small or difficult, it doesn´t matter, because at my English level, maybe it´s not fitting to know all the nuance, otherwise, I could run the risk of getting mixed up, hehe.

Thanks in advance!
 
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  • St. Nick

    Senior Member
    English
    Hi

    Yes, you're really splitting hairs. :) I think Lincoln is saying that it not only involves common sense, but it is expected of us both ethically and morally.
     

    Aud Duck

    Senior Member
    English--United States
    You're right that it's redundant to a certain extent. Lincoln's being intentionally redundant for stylistic reasons.

    "Fitting" and "proper" don't mean exactly the same thing, though. "Proper" usually has more of a connotation of societal approval. Personally, I tend to use it only with schoolchildren. For example, if someone is running down the hallway, I'll tell them to go back to the beginning of the hallway and "walk properly this time." There are other ways to use it, and obviously Abraham Lincoln isn't using it in that sense, but it's the way I tend to hear it used most often.

    Whether or not "suitable" and "fitting" are interchangeable depends on the context. It's a small, but important difference, and discussing it would open up a can of worms.
     

    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    "Fitting and proper" is a set phrase, although I don't know whether it was before Lincoln used it.

    There's a slight difference between "fitting" and "proper" when they're used separately. "Fitting" refers more to the appropriateness of something to a particular situation; "proper" is a more general term referring to whether something is ethically or socially acceptable. In practice they're sometimes used interchangeably.
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Oh my!

    hehe. Well, firstly, thanks to the three of you!. I´m really grateful about your replies, though they are a bit difficult for me, which is probably due to my level, I´m just too much curious sometimes! . Besides I thought maybe there was a very easy explanation to make a difference between those four words, I always say this but I think that the more I read, the sooner I´ll realise about these little nuances.

    Could I say then?: "That dress is quite fitting/suitable for your sister´s wedding" ?
    Or maybe is better: "That dress is very appropiate for your sister´s wedding" ?

    I learn a lot from examples, that helps me a lot.

    Thanks again for your help!
     
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    Aud Duck

    Senior Member
    English--United States
    Of the options, I like "appropriate" the best. Since "fit" is also used in the context of "talle," it sounds odd to use it to describe an article of clothing in a different way. "Suitable" works, as well, but it's not the most common way to say it. I get a mental image of an overly-proper grandmother when I read "suitable" in that context.
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi Aud Duck,

    Thanks for the reply. So, "appropiate" is the best choice? , I´ll keep it in mind though it´s still a bit confusing for me when it comes to chosing one of them as "That dress is quiet fitting/suitable/appropiate/proper for your sister´s weeding" , I´m really struggling, I guess that the trick is, as I always say, reading a lot. I just wanted a little guideline or two examples because when I read it in the dictionary I´m still not able of figuring out the whole thing, but I´ll keep on trying.

    I mean, in that context is better "appropiate" and however, I don´t know in what context "fitting" or suitable" could be better to use.

    Oh my! hehe

    Thanks a lot!

    P.S: I have just looked up "overly-proper", nothing found, it´s maybe slang?
     

    Aud Duck

    Senior Member
    English--United States
    Overly-proper is something I made up on the spot, and, given that "proper" was one of the words you asked about, it must have been very confusing. I'm sorry. "Proper," in the context that I used it, refers to someone who is very caught up in social norms, normally old-fashioned ones. Picture grandmothers in old-fashioned clothing talking about the good old days when people had morals and observed ettiquette.

    In a general way, I think "appropriate" is the most commonly used term in the contexts you're looking for. When in doubt, it's probably the best choice, although, of course, that's not always going to hold true. "Fitting" is used in much more specific cases. No examples are coming to mind at the moment, but I'll try to think about it some more.

    And, yes, reading is by far the best way. Best of luck to you!
     
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