The Strange English Language: Funny Things about English

Funny and Strange things about the English language, English grammar, spelling, pronunciation and word usage.

(Much thanks to Nick from for informing us that this wonderful composition was written by Richard Lederer.  Apologies for the late attribution).

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?

When the stars are out, they are visible,
When the lights are out, they are invisible.

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

C’mon, let’s polish the Polish furniture.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

How can ‘A Slim Chance’ and ‘A Fat Chance’ be the same?

How can ‘You’re so cool’ and ‘You’re not so hot’ be different?

Why are ‘A Wise man’ and ‘A Wise guy’ opposites?

A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

The bandage was wound around the wound.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

Boxing rings are square.

A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

The farm was used to produce produce.

English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

If brother becomes Brethren, why doesn’t mother become Methren?

If tooth becomes teeth, why doesn’t booth become beeth?

If one goose becomes two geese, why doesn’t one moose becomae two meese?

If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

How come Writers write but Fingers don’t fing?
And Grocers don’t groce and Hammers don’t ham?

A hat in the plural doesn’t become hose.
And a cat in the plural doesn’t become cose.

A box in the plural becomes is boxes.
But an Ox in the plural never becomes oxes. (It becomes Oxen).

A lone mouse can transform into a whole set of mice,
But it’s impossible for a single house to become a whole block of hice. (It becomes houses).

Although the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, we must be grateful for small mercies of the language that the feminine pronouns after ‘She’ don’t become ‘Shis’ and ‘Shim’.

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

He could lead if he could only get the lead out.

They were too close to the door to close it.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

It is only in the English language that people recite at a play and play at a recital.

No sooner had my eye fallen upon the tear in the painting, then this eye of mine began to shed many a tear.

I was given a number of injections to make the pain number.

It’s not ridiculous, but entirely sensible to ship by truck and send cargo by ship.

We are a strange lot to have noses that run and feet that smell.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

I was proven right that I had the right of way.

How come you never hear of a combobulated, gruntled, ruly, or peccable person?

Why is it that whether you sit down or sit up, the results are the same?

Shouldn’t there be a shorter word for “monosyllable”?

If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented?

If people from Poland are called “Poles,” why aren’t people from Holland called “Holes?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

The human race has been running for a great many centuries now – but we’re not tired yet.

“I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest sentence?

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

Page Topic: the Very Strange English Language: Funny Things about English Grammar, Spelling, pronunciation and Word Usage.  Much thanks to Richard Lederer for creating this brilliant piece.

4 thoughts on “The Strange English Language: Funny Things about English”

Leave a Comment