Strange Sentences

BuffaloThe Buffalo Sentence

The following is a grammatically correct sentence that makes sense:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

It means that bison from the city of Buffalo, New York, who are bullied (buffaloed) by other bison from the city of Buffalo, in turn themselves bully bison from Buffalo.

Punctuation Puzzles

These sentences are grammatically correct and make sense, but lack the proper punctuation. See if you can figure out where to add it. (Answers below.)

  • I had had had Tom had had had had had had had had the praise of the teacher
    See Answer
    I had had “had”; Tom had had “had had”; “had had” had had the praise of the teacher.
  • is is not not not is not is is is is not is not is it not
    See Answer
    “Is” is not “not”; “not” is not “is”; “is” is “is”; “not” is “not,” is it not?

Here is a sentence that can have two very different meanings depending on how it is punctuated:

  • A woman without her man is nothing.
    See Answer
    A woman, without her man, is nothing.
    A woman: without her, man is nothing.

A Matter of Emphasis

The following sentence can have seven very different connotations depending on which word you emphasize:

  • I never said she stole my money.
  • I never said she stole my money.
  • I never said she stole my money.
  • I never said she stole my money.
  • I never said she stole my money.
  • I never said she stole my money.
  • I never said she stole my money.

Pangrams

A pangram is a sentence that contains every letter in the alphabet, with as few repeated letters as possible. Here is the most famous example, which may be used to test a typewriter or computer keyboard:

  • The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

However, that pangram has 35 letters. This one is better:

  • Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

Not bad at 32 letters. To form a perfect pangram of 26 letters, we’re going to have to cheat in one of two directions: using very obscure words, or using initials.

  • Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz.

There is our obscure example. “Cwm” means “valley,” borrowed from Welsh, and “vext” is a variant spelling of “vexed.” “Quiz” can mean “an odd person.” So this sentence means, “Symbolic carvings on the banks of a fjord in a valley irritated an odd person.” Here is an alternative, using some abbreviations and a proper name:

  • Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx.

One thought on “Strange Sentences”

  1. Fit fit fits fit fit? In the Doric of Aberdeenshire this sentence might be heard in a shoe shop. It means, “Which shoe fits which foot?” Fit = what/which, fit = shoe, fits, fit = which, fit = foot.

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