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The Randy List / English is Difficult

Dan Hubig © 2017

Author’s note:

A friend e-mailed me the first 21 examples in the spring of 2000. I don’t know who wrote or compiled them. They’re internet lore, e-mailed and forwarded countless times, with uncredited versions appearing in multiple places on the Web.

For example:




I added my own #22 shortly after first receiving the list, and then the list kept growing.

REASONS WHY THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS HARD TO LEARN 1) The bandage was wound around the wound. 2) The farm was used to produce produce. 3) I refuse to reuse the refuse. 4) Please polish my Polish shoes. 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) A bass was painted on the head of the 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 into a sewer line. 16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow. 17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail. 18) After a number of 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? Added by Randy Alfred: 22) Though he thought he coughed up enough on his last hiccough, the ploughman couldn't get through to the lough. 23) The viscount got a discount on the montage of the frontage. 24) The previous example was precious. 25) Watch out for petroleum on the linoleum in the mausoleum. 26) We've frozen a dozen lozenges. 27) That was bloody good food. 28) I wondered and pondered whether I had laundered the cloths and the clothes correctly. 29) The helicopter had to hover over the mover. 30) The entrance will entrance you. 31) The mayor and the player said a prayer to share. 32) You'll have to wait for your weight and height to give you a slight advantage at sleight of hand. 33) She went forth on the fourth from north Fort Worth to circle the Earth in search of the berth of her birth. 34) Look at the book the cook took from the brook with a hook and then shook, because he mistook the crook in the nook for a spook. 35) What irony: Iron I earn, and steel I steal. 36) He defanged the deranged animal. 37) The steward got a reward for taking the passengers leeward. 38) The honkie with the long key stole the donkey and the monkey. 39) I suspect the suspect wanted to console the man at the console. 40) Should he shoulder the soldier who sold the solderer the sole sole? 41) The assessor told his confessor he stole the professor's processor. 42) We were retreating from the storm and recreating by re-creating our home. 43) Who's asking whose hues Hugh's huge ax hews? 44) Sure, sugar, you're supposed to suggest the slugger at the super supper pay insurance surcharges for the insurrection. 45) Rezoom the document on your computer to resume writing your resume. 46) The beachcomber found a somber bomber relic. 47) I'll wager that the guy with the pager is drinking a lager. 48) The model is staying at the motel. 49) We rode on that road before we rowed to Rhode Island. 50) Eew! You saw the ewe near the yew at the U. of Utah. 51) "Let's fish for anchovies. Lift the anchor of this tanker. I hanker for their taste," said the banker as he touched a handkerchief to the canker. "Then I'll report my chancre to the chancery." 52) The arrow from his bow flew over the bow of the ship and landed in the bough of a tree ashore, though the water was rough. 53) She touched her finger on the ginger as she was flinging the rake over the plants fringing the garden. 54) I said "plaid" plainly. 55) It bugged her that the TV host, who hugged her and plugged her book and mugged with her, said she'd been drugged by rugged men. 56) With Earth at perihelion, the battalion searched the pavilion, but found no dandelion. 57) There was an altercation over the publication of the physics paper on the cation. 58) Do not tarry on the tarry surface in hot weather. 59) The golf pro was not putting enough emphasis on his putting. 60) The charlatan chemist sent cellophane to the cellist. 61) He wants to encourage his entourage. 62) She plans to elope, so she ran at a lope to give the envelope with the picture of an antelope eating a cantaloupe to Penelope. 63) Officers of the inspectorate expectorate wherever they please. 64) Here, we hear, he heard the word of the Lord. 65) A terrorism threat alerted police to comb the tomb for a bomb. 66) Your four-hour tour starts here. 67) The climate-change denier purchased thread of a very fine denier. 68) She was a scholar of solar energy. 69) His shoe kicked the hoe. 70) I never ever thought to sever the clever lever to ease the fever. 71) I will rebut the review of the revue debut. 72) Swap the lower flower pots at the fore for four flour tins.

73) She sat on a banquette at the banquet with a bouquet of flowers.

But, wait! There’s more.

74) Watch what you can do yourself, using words from this batch: batch catch hatch latch match patch thatch scratch snatch But: watch

75) Similarly: ash bash brash cash clash crash dash flash gash gnash hash lash mash rash slash smash splash thrash trash

And thus, I wash my hands of this mess.

© Randy Alfred (except examples 1 though 21)

Randy Alfred is a retired copyeditor (Wired, and news writer (TechTV, KRON-TV) as well as editor of MAD SCIENCE: Einstein's Fridge, Dewar's Flask, Mach's Speed, and 362 Other Inventions and Discoveries That Made Our World. His work has also appeared in Sports Illustrated, Might, Washingtonian, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. He's also a member of The Lunch Guys.


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