English lesson

This one’s for all of you out there who, like me, love the English language. I don’t know where this comes from.


We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;

But the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;

Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,

And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,

Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,

And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,

But though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,

But imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

Some other reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.

  2. The farm was used to produce produce.

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

  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

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

  8. At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.

  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

  10. I did not object to the object.

  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

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

  13. They were too close to the door to close it.

  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

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

  16. To help with planting, t he farmer taught his sow to sow.

  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

  18. After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.

  19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

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

  21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

  22. I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Screwy pronunciations can mess up your mind! For example …

If you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going through the bough on a tree!

English muffins weren’t invented in England.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea, nor is it a pig.

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

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

Sometimes, I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

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.

Mahalo for the chuckle.


I write the same thing on my underwear tags to keep from making those mistakes while composing memo’s at work.

I use a really, really small pen.

“I don’t believe in the after life, although I am bringing a change of underwear”

~ Woody Allen

excellent I love it, gona print it out and give it to the lab as whenever we freeze dry something I always think the imperfect past should be freezedrozen!


no wonder english is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn. Makes my head spin and I was born to it.

Right on, Magnus. One of the biggest complaints francophones have about learning English is the preponderance of prepositions they have to learn.

Isn’t it funny how “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing?


Not nearly as funny as “flammable” and “inflammable” meaning the same thing.

My speech teacher in college, who wrote the book on speech (literally, he wrote the textbook)used this example when teaching phonetic speech.

Fish can be spelled “ghoti”
gh from “tough”=F
o from “women”=I
ti from “nation”=SH

He was a strange little man.

I recognize most of this from Richard Lederer’s book “Crazy English.” I believe that Lederer is (was?) a teacher at St. Paul’s in Concord, NH. He also wrote a hilarious column “The History of the World According to Student Bloopers.” I have seen his stuff all over the place, though he is rarely cited as the author.

Funny thing and bizarre coincidence that my English teacher gave us the exact same document this week. Interesting and funny.


“Me fail English? That’s unpossible” – Ralph

I’m teaching English to little Korean kids right now, and doing so has really helped me to understand how screwed up our language is. Not to mention that the kids can’t pronounce “F” and ask questions like, “teacher, ‘any’ what mean?” Decoding text messages from Korean girls is always interesting too.