Gather the kids and suspend your long-preserved maturity: we're about to visit the lighter side of the English language.
- A boy answers the phone. The caller asks, "Where are your parents?"
"They ain't here!"
"Come on, son. Where's your grammar?"
"My gramma ain't here neither. She's gone to church!"
- If "can't" is the contraction for "cannot," what is "don't" short for?
- What does a grammarian call Santa's helpers?
- Use the word "hyphenated" in a sentence.
There used to be a space between these two words, but there isn't any more because the hyphen ate it.
- I don't know a lot about grammar. For example, I get mixed up on "lay" and "lie." The other day, one of my old hens cackled, and I didn't know whether she had laid or lied.
(Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler, More Laughter in Appalachia. August House, 1995)
- Is there a word in English that uses all the vowels including "y"?
- "I am" is said to be the shortest sentence in the English language. The longest is "I do."
- A pregnant woman went into labor and began to yell, "Couldn't! Wouldn't! Shouldn't! Didn't! Can't!"
She was having contractions.
(Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion, February 3, 2007)
- What kind of word would you invite to a fancy tea party?
A proper noun.
- What word allows you to take away two letters and get one in return?
- What's the longest word in the English language?
"Smiles": there's a "mile" between the first and last letters.
Or "post office": it has the most letters.
Or maybe "rubber": it stretches.
- Teacher: Can someone give me a sentence starting with "I"?
Student: I is--
Teacher: No. Always say, "I am."
Student: All right, if you say so. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.
- In one of his radio programs, comedian Jack Benny and his guest star Vincent Price were drinking some freshly brewed coffee. After savoring a sip, Benny announced, "This is the better coffee I ever tasted."
Price snapped, "You mean the best coffee!"
Benny snapped back, "There's only two of us drinking it!"
(Ken Tucker, Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About TV. Macmillan, 2005)
- Which two letters of the alphabet mean nothing?
- St. Peter was standing at the Pearly Gates watching an assistant check in new arrivals. The assistant had a roster and was calling out names as the spirits lined up.
"James Robertson," he read off, and a fellow said, "I'm him." Then he read "William Bumgarner," and another fellow said, "That's me." Then he read, "Gladys Humphreys," and a woman answered, "I am she."
St. Peter leaned over and whispered to his assistant, "Another damn schoolteacher."
(Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler, Curing the Cross-Eyed Mule: Appalachian Mountain Humor. August House, 1989)
For more language lessons that refuse to take themselves seriously, go to The Lighter Side of Language at Grammar & Composition.