Can someone explain the structure of this sentence - is "non ci stare" a fixed expression? I also found "Io ci sto!" in the dictionary for "I am in!" (I participate). I'm not quite sure what to make of this together with the "to fit in" of this sentence... help please :)
Lei non sta in quella macchina = Lei non ci sta in quella macchina
Here "ci" gives only emphasis.
In Italian you can say "Io mangio una mela" or "Io mi mangio una mela", and they mean more or less the same.
Pronoun particles are tricky, unfortunately, in my FAQ (you know where it is? http://duolingo.com/#/comment/233855 ) there is something at point #11, but it's difficult to explain everything. :(
Marziotta "to the rescue!" To arrive at a correct translation, I proceeded exactly as you suggested...first, the sentence without the "ci", which always freaks me out...so "Lei non sta in quella macchina" to start, then added in the "ci", which I figured had to be a particle for emphasis..."there". So my translation was "she does not fit into that car THERE"!.. (as opposed to "this car HERE"). I'm sure that other American-English speakers will agree with me that "that one there" and "this one here" are very common colloquially. I feel that my translation is correct also, and am going to report it. Do you agree?
Here, the ci seems to be more than just an emphatic, but an idiom which changes the meaning. Lei non sta in quella macchina would simply be "she isn't in that car" - she could be standing beside it, or still inside her house.
Using an emphatic just for emphasis' sake seems ridiculous - she's either in the car or not, so what's the point of emphasis? non ci sta has to mean something idiomatic, which we now know is "she doesn't fit".
The link marziotta gives is the best (I study that as my main source for pronouns).
Basically ci has three main meanings ..
... and emphasis of possession on the verb stare
It helps me to remember that "ti sta bene" means it looks good on you/ it suits you/ it fits you well. So ti sta or ci sta/nno can mean fit in something as well.
Another bad drop-down menu situation, coupled with multiple uses of a word or expression "does not fit" versus "isn't there"! Which was my answer. We are here to learn, not be tricked!
"she does not fit in to that car " was marked wrong. I am not a native English speaker, does maybe "into" has to be one word ?
In this instance, yes, it's "into". The only instance I can think of where the two words are separate is when "to" forms part of another phrase, such as "First knocking on the door, he went in to see his friend".