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I had a question asked of me that I completely misunderstood, but I was chastised that I did, in fact, misunderstand it.

My wife and I were driving to the store with our 15 month-old son asleep in his car seat. As we approach the store, my wife asks, "Are we taking him in".

Now, my initial thought was: Is my wife actually suggesting that we leave our son in the car as we go shopping? I asked her as such, which got an incredulous response from my wife.

"Of course not!!" she said...she was simply asking if everybody was going in to the store or if only I was going in.

After much arguing, we both agreed that the question could've been asked differently (I don't think it was a smart question to begin with), but she contends that I should've "known her better" to not believe that she suggested to go shopping with our son asleep in the car. She further contends that even if she asked that question to a complete stranger that they would "know" that she wasn't suggesting leaving her son in the car by himself.

So knowing the context, is "Are we taking him in" a proper vernacular for "Are you going in by yourself or are we all going in together"?

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No, your wife's usage is not a standard way of phrasing the actual question she meant to ask (but don't tell her I said that!). I hope you'll understand that I'm voting to close this question as Too Localised. Or maybe General Reference, in that everyone knows wives are like Humpty Dumpty when it comes to what words mean –  FumbleFingers Nov 6 '11 at 4:21
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This is not a common idiom in any vernacular. –  Anicul Nov 6 '11 at 6:00
    
Perhaps, to use another meaning of the expression, she was taking you in. –  Barrie England Nov 6 '11 at 12:35
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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Barrie England, Mitch, onomatomaniak, simchona Nov 6 '11 at 17:00

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2 Answers

Although "Are we taking him in" may not be proper "vernacular" for "Are you going in by yourself or are we all going in together?", it certainly is a concise and reasonable way to phrase the question, "Will you go in alone, or shall I, or are we all going in?" and obviously you failed to listen to what was meant, rather than what was said. However, the truth of your wife's claim that a complete stranger would have understood seems less obvious. For example, my impression on first reading the question was that she meant, "Are we fooling our son, or does he see through our little scheme?" and I was having trouble figuring out what the scheme was.

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Your wife's argument is based on the premise that only the following possibilities are worth considering:

  1. You go in.
  2. She goes in.
  3. All three of you go in.

Only the last one involves "taking him in".

Your interpretation requires that the possibility "You and she go in" is also worth considering. This is nothing to do with idiom, and everything to do with context and perspective.

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