Here are eight sentences that are difficult to decipher, even for a native speaker of the English language.ghoti = fish

If it was your first language and you speak it every day, you probably don’t stop to think about how truly difficult and strange English can be. Each of these sentences are grammatically correct, but they will question your understanding of the language.

I never said she stole my money.

Nothing strange about this one, right? However, its meaning depends on its context. It actually has seven different meanings. Read it seven times and each time emphasize a different word and you’ll see what I mean.

Read rhymes with lead, and read rhymes with lead, but read and lead don’t rhyme, and neither do read and lead.

Another fun sentence. For instance: Red rhymes with led, and reed rhymes with leed, but red and leed don’t rhyme and neither to reed and led.

All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life.

This grammatically correct sentence uses the past perfect tense (you remember that one, don’t you? It always confused me when the teacher said, “Now, write that sentence in the past perfect tense). This sentence takes things one step further and uses it back to back. The first and third ‘hads’ are auxiliary verbs.

A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.

I love to read this sentence out loud, using just one of the nine possible ‘ough’ pronunciations through for the entire sentence. This sentence illustrates the versatility of the ‘ough’ letter combination in the English language. George Bernard Shaw famously used the ‘gh’ of an ‘ough’ sound to to illustrate irregularities in English spelling. when he claimed that ghoti spelled fish. using these sounds: gh, pronounced [f] as in tough [tʌf]o, pronounced [ɪ] as in women [ˈwɪmɪn]; and ti, pronounced [ʃ] as in nation [ˈneɪʃən].

A woman without her man is nothing.

One of my teachers somewhere along the way began her class by separating us into groups three with four girls, two with four boys. Then she wrote this sentence on the board and asked us to punctuate it. After much discussion we realized there were a number of ways to punctuate it, but in each case the boys decided the best was “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” Of course the girls decided this was the best: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

You have just begun reading the sentence you have just finished reading.

You’ll probably reread this sentence a few times. It sounds right, but it seems wrong. However, it is both grammatically and chronologically correct. I

I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalizes intercommunications’ incomprehensibleness.

An exercise in vocabulary and perhaps an exercise in penmanship (imagine a doctor writing this as a prescription). Actually, what is interesting about this sentence is that each word is one letter longer than the one preceding it.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

This might be the plan for a week long trek into the wilderness, but this sentence is an improvement on the one you may have had to type over and over again when you were learning to type: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. That one used 35 letters, but this one is the shortest possible pangram, which is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. This one uses just  32 letters.

Maybe this 102 year old man has the right idea.

If you’d like to see some more interestingly confusing sentences, try this page at Brain Jet: http://www.brainjet.com/random/2106/15-sentences-that-prove-english-is-the-craziest-language-ever

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