Buffalo!

Image result for buffalo

Here’s an unusual sentence I found:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Now, before you ask, this is not a mistake. This is an actual English sentence. Let’s try to understand it.

First of all, here’s the vocabulary you need:

  • Buffalo: a city in New York

  • buffalo: a verb meaning to intimidate (depending on the dictionary you use)

  • buffalo: a type of large hoofed animal

Now, let’s look at the sentence piece by piece.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

The beginning of the sentence refers to buffalo from Buffalo.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

This next part is a relative clause, but it does not use a relative pronoun. If we add a pronoun and apply the first thing we learned, it looks like this:

that buffalo from Buffalo buffalo

(Don’t forget the last word is a verb.)

Add this to the first part, and we get this:

Buffalo from Buffalo that buffalo from Buffalo buffalo

And now we have a complete subject.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

The buffalo after our subject is of course the verb. The final two words again refer to buffalo from Buffalo.

Finally, let’s put this all together and translate this crazy sentence. In this version, I will replace buffalo the verb with intimidate to be clear. I will also underline the subject, verb, and object separately.

Buffalo from Buffalo that (other) buffalo from Buffalo intimidate intimidate (other) buffalo from Buffalo.

So, there you have it. Not the most useful sentence but an interesting one nonetheless.

 

Mark Schenker

Originally from the United States, Mark has been teaching English abroad for the past five years. He worked in Japan before moving to Singapore. He loves learning new languages and takes pride in helping English Language Learners.

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