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For the past couple of years there has been a trend on twitter and facebook to post statuses with incomplete "when you" statements. These statements are intended to imply some unstated, but obvious result.

Examples:

  • When you find your fly down after you just got off stage.
  • When you see your ex out with someone uglier than you.
  • When you have a severe allergy and find peanuts AFTER you take a bite of your brownie.
  • When your kids all have sleepovers on the same night.

These are clearly incomplete thoughts, but are they in some way grammatically incorrect? If so, what rules do they violate?

  • It's an abbreviation, elision, deletion, whatever, of "that feel[ing] when...". – Dan Bron Oct 20 '15 at 12:57
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    In other words, no grammar rules are violated, or even gently woken up by the scent of fresh muffins. – RegDwigнt Oct 20 '15 at 13:08
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When you see your ex out with someone uglier than you.

You showed them all beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full-stop. To that extent, you could say that they violate the grammar rules for being a correct sentence.

As has been pointed out, they are all abbreviations. There are various ways of completing them, for example you could complete them as a question, e.g.

You know that feeling you get when you see your ex out with someone uglier than you? Well that is the feeling I have right now.

or you could complete them as a statement.

Right now, I have the feeling you get when you see your ex out with someone uglier than you.

Answer

Rather than being in error, I think you can put them in the same category as a book title. These tend not to be complete sentences. Similarly, titles of paintings and photographs aren't usually a complete utterance.

Here are some book titles that begin with 'when'.

When Christmas bells Ring - Katy Flynn

When the Professor got stuck in the snow - - Dan Rhodes

and here are some with 'when you'

When you reach me - Rebecca Stead

When you love a man who loves himself - W. Keith Campbell

  • can you expand on "...violate the grammar rules for being a correct sentence."? – trex005 Oct 21 '15 at 8:13

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