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Grammar Lesson of the Day: Buffalo buffalo buffalo

February 12, 2011

I learn something new every day.  One of my favorite ways to do so is the “Random Article” feature on Wikipedia.

Today, it was: “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” is a grammatically valid sentence in the American English language, used as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated linguistic constructs.

The sentence is unpunctuated and uses three different readings of the word “buffalo”. In order of their first use, these are

  • a. the city of Buffalo, New York, which is used as a noun adjunct in the sentence and is followed by the animal;
  • n. the noun buffalo, an animal, in the plural (equivalent to “buffaloes” or “buffalos”), in order to avoid articles;
  • v. the verbbuffalo” meaning to bully, confuse, deceive, or intimidate.

 

Thanks, Wikipedia!

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