en_quotes_feat

25 Comical Quotes About the Confusing English Language

Everyone from Henry David Thoreau and George Carlin to Jerry Seinfeld and your regular old Joe Shmoe has something to say about the English language. Here’s a list of 25 quotes about the humorous, ironic, subtle and downright confusing aspects of this multi-continental Germanic tongue.

Did we miss your favorite quote? We’re all ears. Share it with us in the comments section below, or post it on our Facebook page!


“Our language is funny – a ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ are the same thing.”

J. Gustav White

“If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.”

Doug Larson

“If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.”

Doug Larson

“Why do we have noses that run and feet that smell?”

Author Unknown

“English is a funny language; that explains why we park our car on the driveway and drive our car on the parkway.”

Author Unknown

“The word ‘good’ has many meanings.  For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

G. K. Chesterton

“Lymph, v.:  to walk with a lisp.”

Washington Post reader

“I like the word ‘indolence.’ It makes my laziness seem classy.”

Bern Williams

“The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘check enclosed.’”

Dorothy Parker

“The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian ‘pahks’ his ‘cah,’ the lost ‘r’s migrate southwest, causing a Texan to ‘warsh’ his car and invest in ‘erl wells.’”

Author Unknown

“‘I am’ is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that ‘I do’ is the longest sentence?”

George Carlin

“Rudyard Kipling was fired as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. His dismissal letter was reported to have said, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language. This isn’t a kindergarten for amateur writers.’”

Author Unknown

“The English language has a deceptive air of simplicity; so have some little frocks; but they are both not the kind of thing you can run up in half an hour with a machine.”

Dorothy L. Sayers

“What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: feedback. Don’t forget that feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.”

Author Unknown

“English grammar is so complex and confusing for the one very simple reason that its rules and terminology are based on Latin, a language with which it has precious little in common.”

Bill Bryson

“Making English grammar conform to Latin rules is like asking people to play baseball using the rules of football.”

Bill Bryson

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Ronald Reagan

“In my sentences I go where no man has gone before… I am a boon to the English language.”

George W. Bush

“Introducing ‘Lite’ – The new way to spell ‘Light’, but with twenty percent fewer letters.”

Jerry Seinfeld

“England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”

George Bernard Shaw

“Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.”

Robert Benchley

“When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly, I think any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.”

Henry David Thoreau

“I speak two languages: Body and English.”

Mae West

“Opera in English is, in the main, just about as sensible as baseball in Italian.”

H. L. Mencken

“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

38 thoughts on “25 Comical Quotes About the Confusing English Language

  1. Gena Boag says:

    The english written word is designed to inextricably interweave and deceive… Eg: When a Judge says to a person, “do you understand”? he is not asking you if you comprehend what he is saying, he is actually asking if you UNDER STAND what he is saying. Do you understand he is asking if you STAND UNDER his judgement?

  2. Gena Boag says:

    The english written word is designed to inextricably interweave and deceive… Eg: When a Judge says to a person, “do you understand”? He Is not asking you if you comprehend what he is saying, he is actually asking if you UNDER STAND what he is saying. Do you understand he is asking if you STAND UNDER his judgement?

  3. Olga says:

    This is my favorite:
    “Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”
    )))))))

  4. Judy Bernegger says:

    I think this one should be up there too:

    “It depends upon what the meaning of the word is, is.”
    ~ William Jefferson Clinton

  5. Edris Vecchio says:

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  6. javad fallahi says:

    I am studying TEFL in UMZ university in Iran and I’m really impacted by these meaty comical quotes. Thank you very much

  7. Laust Cawz says:

    “Our language is funny – a ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ are the same thing.”
    J. Gustav White

    “Fat chance” here is sarcastic.

    I seem to remember a quotation that went something like—

    “Silence indicates a strong command of the English language.”

    Does anyone remember or know the exact quotation &/or who said/wrote it?

  8. Alex Bartha says:

    I was born in Hungary and I do speak the language but I have or had
    a hard time understanding some of the sayings or expressions.
    This is a true story which happened to me in the first years being in America
    Driving by the country side I saw a sign “rabbits for sale live or dressed”
    I told the nice lady that I would like to see the “dressed” She went to her
    freezer and pulled out a frozen pack of rabbit meat and said this the dressed kind???
    Well it was not dressed! It was undressed (the skin pulled off)
    Thank you for reading my story. Alex

  9. Harley says:

    “Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”
    H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

    Love this, it is so damn true, people make fun of others with broken English and all that means is that they are trying..

  10. Will James says:

    Fun read.

    “If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.”

    or a ‘cat as trophy’ (a trophy cat). To add to the inherent ambiguity of the language consider the word ‘mean’ as a solitary word written on a blackboard and ask someone to supply the definition. There are at least three disjoint possibilities:

    a term in statistics (as noun), intentionality (as verb), something nasty (as qualifier)

    So you would need some sort of context to flesh-out the meaning. But to paraphrase ‘ol Karl Popper, words are defined using words which themselves remain undefined… c’est la vie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>