FFF – James while John had had had…

As a way to demonstrate the importance of punctuation in dealing with lexical ambiguity, a sentence was created by Hans Reichenbach which goes as follows:

James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

This sentence is referring to two students who were required by an English test to describe a man who had suffered from a cold in the past. John wrote “The man had a cold”, which the teacher marked incorrect, while James wrote, “The man had had a cold”. Since James’ answer was right, it had had a better effect on the teacher.

When the sentence is given its proper punctuation it reads as such:

James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher

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