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Funny English Grammar Rules and Quirky Sentences

The English language, on a literal note, is the world’s greatest language, both in terms of size and scope. If you doubt it, there are 615,000 entries in the latest Oxford English Dictionary edition – a proof that English is great in terms of size and you’ll definitely need run on sentence checker when writing your paper. What about scope wise? In 79 countries as well as territories, English is the official language.


That’s not all, it is just great in terms of greatness! Sounds quirky, doesn’t it? That’s the truth anyway. Well, it’s also a great hodgepodge of words/terms borrowings alterations, misinterpretations, irony in a sentence, misspellings, inventions, mispronunciations, and even words you’ve never thought of seeing or even using.

English Grammar Rules and How Funny They Can Be

Here’s a funny list of grammar rules to ponder on;

Rule #1: Use of a comma to connect ideas

Especially when connecting two or more ideas into one sentence, the use of comma can be helpful in not altering the meaning of the sentence.

Here’s an example of how quirky a sentence can be without the use of comma to connect the ideas:

  “Let’s eat grandpa.”

Lack of comma in Garden Path sentences ‘A’ above sounds as though the speaker is calling the rest of the people to join him in eating grandpa! That’s one of the quirks of the English language and its funny grammar rules.

  “Let’s eat, grandpa.”

The presence of comma in sentence B brings in the real intention of the speaker, which is asking grandpa to come eat.

Here’s another funny implication of not observing the rule of using comma to connect sentences and make them meaningful;

  • Wrong: Many people love cooking their families and pets.
  • Right: Many people love cooking, their families, and their pets.

In essence, the sentence is saying that a lot of people love cooking and also love their families as well as their pets.

Rule #2: Syntactic ambiguity

This is one of the weird English rules that promote several meanings of same sentence.

Here’s a typical example:

“I’m happy I passed the interview, and so is Mike.”

The sentence above could have multiple interpretations or meanings such as;

  • Mike and I are happy I passed the interview
  • I’m happy Mike and I passed the interview
  • I’m happy I passed the interview, Mike also passed the interview
  • I’m glad I passed the interview

Rule #3: Auto-antonyms, generonyms, and synonyms

weird english rules

Imag credit: Times Higher Education

Auto-antonyms refer to words that have tons of meanings, with two of those meanings being antonyms of one another. Without even being mindful of it, a number of auto-antonyms are used in daily use of the English language. One of such words is ‘off’: When something is turned off, it means it won’t work until it is turned on again. On the other hand, when an alarm goes off, it could imply it has just turned on in a rather bizarre manner. Same with malapropisms.

We use generonyms to refer to day by day item. This and the accompanying terms above have evolved to become general terms that are used more often compared to their technical counterparts.

For instance, these days, instead of performing an ‘online search’, we will usually ‘Google’ the search subject. Another instance is the regular use of ‘Q-tips’ to mean cotton swabs, hence using the brand name of the item instead of its English term or word. Similar examples of such phrase or word usage abound here and there.

Auto-antonyms generonyms synonyms

In this list of lexical phenomena, synonyms are without doubts the most popular; yet, most people are not aware that synonym has a synonym known as ‘poecilonyn’. A synonym is simply a word that has similar meaning to other word. Here’s an example: ‘Content’ and happy’.

#4: Dangling modifiers

Misplaced or dangling modifiers are among the weird English rules that can also alter the meaning of sentences. Look at the example sentence below;

 “The cavemen hunted games armed with arrows and spears.”

The order of sentence ‘A’ above sounds as though games (animals) were the ones armed with arrows and spears.

“Armed with arrows and spears, the cavemen hunted games.” Alternatively, you can write the same sentence as “The cavemen used arrows and spears to hunt games.”

Both sentences in B portray the true meaning that the writer had in mind; which is, the cavemen hunted games or animals using arrows and spears.

Another example of a dangling or misplaced modifier that portrays funny English grammar rules is the sentence below;

“I found my lost key sweeping the foot side of my bed.”

Since the word “while” is missing in the sentence above, it sounded as though “my lost key was sweeping the foot side of my bed.”

#5: Paraprosdokians

The best way to describe this quirky grammar rule is to describe its final outcome. In essence, a paraprosdokian leaves the reader or listener sort of puzzled by the way the sentence ends. Often, it is employed to achieve comedic effect, and may sometimes end up in an anti-climax.


A typical example of a paraprosdokian sentence is seen below;

“My stay in this town has been awesomely great, but this can’t be it.”

#6: Pronouns

On a lighter note, if you seem to be struggling to remember your pronouns and their usage, keep this joke about using pronouns in mind;

“As though he was pointing at me, our after-school tutor simply asked, “who can tell me two pronouns?” I replied, “Who, me?”

Obviously, the writer mentioned two pronouns (who, me) while trying to find out if the question was directed at him.

As you probably know, a pronoun is a word used to replace a noun.

#7: Punctuations

Again, the use of joke to highlight how important it is to use punctuations would be appropriate here. Punctuations can alter the original meaning of sentences depending on how you apply them.

In an English class, a teacher wrote the following on the board and asked one of the students to punctuate the sentence;

Teacher wrote: “A wife without her husband is finished.”

Student punctuates: “A wife, without her husband, is finished.”

Teacher corrects the student: “A wife: without her, husband is finished.”

Funny, isn’t it? That’s the quirkiness of English grammar.

Learn the acceptable grammar rules for your academic papers right here!

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