Five-Line Rhyme Time: A Limerick Contest

[Note: This limerick contest is now over. See foot of post for updates.]

It’s competition time at Sentence first! All you have to do is write a limerick about language and add it in a comment to this post, and you’ll be in the running for a Kindle or some fine books on language. First, a word about our sponsors.


Sponsoring the contest and supplying the prizes are the good people at Stack Exchange, a community-based Q&A website. At SE, people ask questions, answers are discussed, edited, and voted on, and so the most helpful rise to the top. There are sections on cooking, maths, photography, programming – all sorts of special interests, including:

Click the pic to visit. The English Language and Usage page has a lively turnover of questions on usage, etymology, semantics, pronunciation, dialects, phrases, and other such topics; the FAQ offers a useful introduction. It’s a friendly, informative kind of place. Some example discussions:

Why is q followed by a u?
Why are there inconsistencies in the pronunciation of the alphabet?
What is the origin of ZOMG?
Can doubt sometimes mean question?
Did English ever have a formal version of you?
Origins of the word bug in Software.
Proverb or expression for a situation with two choices, both leading to a different kind of trouble.

Here’s one relevant to our competition:

What is it about English that makes it favourable for writing limericks?

And one that caught my eye from the Science Fiction & Fantasy page:

How does Superman shave?

I think it’s an addictive place to browse partly because whatever one person is curious about, others will be curious about. Try it and see.



And so to business. Lauren, who manages the English Language & Usage page, recently got in touch to propose a contest; I suggested limericks, and now it’s your turn.

Limericks should be of normal length, rhythm, and rhyming scheme, more or less. You probably know the structure well. Wikipedia has the basics, and I’m glad to see it cites Gershon Legman, whose thorough and spectacularly rude two-volume collection I read this year. But do please resist this tradition – keep your compositions family friendly, and ignore Morris Bishop’s characterisation:

The limerick is furtive and mean;
You must keep her in close quarantine,
Or she sneaks to the slums
And promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk and obscene.

Should your muse linger, you can submit 2–3 limericks – but no more! They should be original, and in English. The theme is language: writing, grammar, usage, style, and so on. Anything language-y or linguistic, so long as it entertains. Rhymes should be close but need not be precise. Inventiveness is encouraged; repeating a rhyme (à la Lear) is not.



First prize is a Kindle, Amazon’s popular e-book reader. I hear they’re all the rage.

Second prize (A) is two new books I haven’t yet read but look forward to reading: Robert Lane Greene’s You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity (praised by Language Hat here); and Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl’s 101 Misused Words You’ll Never Confuse Again (commended by John E. McIntyre here).

Second prize (B) is two older books I have read, and to which I often refer: T. P. Dolan’s wonderful A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, described by Tom Paulin as “a pioneering work of scholarship”; and the great Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage, which Geoffrey K. Pullum calls “the finest work of scholarship on English grammar and usage I have ever seen.”

Prizes can only be sent to western Europe, continental U.S., and Canada. I’m sorry if that’s a problem for some readers. You can’t enter if you’re related to me or work for Stack Exchange; otherwise, go for it. It’s impossible to be objective about poetry, so if I can’t choose clear winners I’ll narrow it down a bit and pick three at random.

You don’t have to spread the word through social media – or traditional speech or gesture – but I’d love if you did: the more entries, the more fun for all.

Today is Monday 12 September; the deadline is Friday 23 September. Winners to be announced the week after, in an update to this post. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter, if you’re the tweeting type.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


Update 1: The contest is now closed. Thank you all very much for submitting poems and spreading the word. I’ve had great fun reading the limericks (over 130 of them!), marvelling at their wit and ingenuity.

I’ll make a shortlist of the ones I’m most impressed by and will draw lots for the prizes. Winners will be announced next week. Comments are closed until then.

Some of you will be interested to know that Stack Exchange now has a Linguistics page.


Update 2: So many good limericks were entered, I wish I had more prizes to give. Ten times more. But I’m happy to announce the following three winners:

Second prize (B) goes to Mike Page:

If engaged in a contest with Inuit
in snow-naming, please, discontinue it!
We can hardly compete
Using “slush”, “powder”, “sleet”…
You’ve got to be Inuit to win you it!

for imaginative rhyming and inspired silliness. (Alongside his limerick I must recommend this essay (PDF) on Eskimo words for snow.)

Second prize (A) goes to Lisa Liel:

Grammarians like to explain
That the verbing of nouns is inane
But friending is fine
It’s no different in kind
Than contacting me to complain

More sense in 25 words than you can shake a derivational suffix at. (Note: after the verb contact (in the sense get in touch with) arose in the early 20th century, it was “greeted with open hostility by purists for several decades”, according to Robert Burchfield.)

First prize goes to Paraic O’Donnell:

There was once a pig’s ear of a language,
Romance scraps in a Jerry-built sandwich.
Mostly used for rude jokes,
It became for some folks
Something nothing was seriouser than which.

for fine philological punning and wonderful syntactical funning that made me laugh much longer than I ought to admit.

Congratulations to Mike, Lisa, and Paraic, thanks to Stack Exchange for their generosity, and thank you all again for taking part!


148 Responses to Five-Line Rhyme Time: A Limerick Contest

  1. ALiCe__M says:

    There was a French girl in the park
    Who enjoyed crossing words at dark
    Bumped into a bat
    Hold on to her hat
    The bat munched the hat like a shark!

  2. Tony Noland says:

    Inflection can go up or down
    And make a king sound like a clown.
    Wrong tone is evinced
    When you sound unconvinced:
    “It looks like that kid’s going to drown?”

    (I’m on twitter as @TonyNoland, and limericks are a hobby)

  3. If you say you’re a big verbivore,
    But you don’t know your you’re from your your,
    And you’re not sure just when
    To use than or use then,
    Then I think you should be reading more.

  4. Cathy says:

    To write about language, a joy
    With so many words to employ
    But where do I start
    When I haven’t the heart
    And I’m feeling a little bit coy?

  5. Brendan Strong says:

    I before E except after C
    Is a brief weighed down with fallacies
    There’s a freight of deceipt
    When the rule is received:
    It is seismic to society

  6. ALiCe__M says:

    Cathy I ask where is the beef
    I think you could improve it if
    You called out his name
    Without a drop of shame
    And here he’d come : your dear Heathcliff!

  7. nettiewriter says:

    Please don’t say that our language is easy,
    For it’s grammar and words leave me queasy.
    Be it bough, through or cough,
    Or tough, rough or trough
    It’s rules make me feel quite uneasy.


  8. Tony Noland says:

    Verbing a noun seems askew,
    But nouning a verb isn’t new;
    Like “paint” and “to rest”
    Our language is blessed
    With a flexible usage or two.

    (I’ll stop at two limericks.)

  9. Ash says:

    Frau Grammarian lost all her bloom
    When her young charges botched “who” and “whom.”
    “Woe is me!” said the Frau
    “Where’s the point to life now?”
    So they etched “their there they’re” on her tomb.

  10. Matt Ellen says:

    English pedants go squiffy
    When they find that your usage is whiffy
    They say “Don’t use that word!”
    “When you do it’s absurd!”
    What they need is a trip up the Liffey.

  11. grapeson says:

    “You Yankees,” the Englishman said,
    Bemusedly shaking his head.
    “I never could see
    Pronouncing it ‘Z’;
    It ought to be spoken as ‘Z’!”

  12. The thing to remember about grammar
    Is that you need to approach with a hammer.
    If not then your commas
    Look as though dropped by bombers
    And will give your poor reader a stammer.

  13. Judith Rosen says:

    Linguistics is about human language
    In a limerick this gives us a pang, which,
    between dictionary and ear,
    means no rhymes will appear
    So we have to invent new word-slang-age.

  14. Matt Ellen says:

    In English you can write many limericks
    Because of the language’s curious metrics
    It goes up and down
    and makes all the right sounds
    Is to do with all the anapestics

  15. There was a young lady called Annie,
    Whose talent for grammar was uncanny.
    Until one dark day
    Her apostrophe went astray
    And she shouted out ‘now let’s eat Granny!’

  16. Andrew Ingram says:

    Pedants stop! And all think again.
    When our forebears were callow young men
    Their arse was whipped tender
    If they wrote “an agenda” –
    Pedants said it was plural back then.

  17. A simple young waiter called Egad
    whose reading and writing was so bad
    caused lots of confusion
    at the family reunion
    when Grammar was placed next to Grandad

  18. chicaderock says:

    There once was a lady abroad
    who obviously hadn’t been taught
    the correct rules to write and wasn’t so bright
    “But I can still enter” she faught.

  19. Claude says:

    I have but a few years to go
    My mind is getting a bit slow
    Words jump here and there
    And go everywhere
    And never obey a No No!

  20. Leslie Wright says:

    In the South the folks say ya’ll.
    They eat okra, biscuits, and slaw.
    Am not becomes ain’t.
    Can not becomes cain’t.
    It is often said with a drawl.

  21. Daniel says:

    Auto-antonyms, sanction I must:
    When I dust, I may add or take dust!
    “Yeah, right!”‘s your impression,
    But this begs the question,
    And leaves me now feeling nonplussed.


  22. […] to Stan Carey’s limerick contest: Auto-antonyms, sanction I must: When I dust, I may add or take dust! “Yeah, right!”‘s your […]

  23. Pratish says:

    In English I thought we were taught no lies,
    always cross the t’s and dot the i’s…
    Also that “i” came before “e”
    …except after “c”…
    and so I ended up doing Science!

  24. chompy says:

    “Now Paddy,” said Seamus McGrew,
    “just look on this advert would you:
    Dese blokes in ‘ere tell us
    dey’re wantin’ tree fellers –
    ’tis a pity we’re only two…”

  25. chompy says:

    When I asked the Maitre d’
    what might the green soup b’
    called..errr…, ‘petitt poyse’?
    he said, “Shhh! Less noise!
    Some think it tastes like p’ !”

  26. chompy says:

    A precocious young daughter from Slough
    would harass her mum as to how
    it should be called ‘Sluff’;
    yelled her mum, “That’s enough!”
    smirked the brat, “Don’t you mean ‘that’s enow’ ??”

  27. Anita Hanks says:

    Throw me down the stairs, my shoes.
    Awkward, I know.
    But, upstairs I won’t go.
    I’m shoeicidal,
    And too full of booze.

  28. A professor once scribbled a note
    On the grammar of what others wrote
    “The spelling is dismal
    The punctuation, abysmal
    To learning your craft, please devote!”

  29. Jennifer Rose says:

    While playing a game of Twister,
    Mike grabbed Jen and kissed her.
    She like it a lot,
    Now they’re tying the knot,
    Next month they’ll be Mrs. and Mr.

    (This was my wedding invitation!)

  30. RJ says:

    It must always be ‘I’ before ‘E’
    Except when they’re following ‘C’
    It happens each time
    As true as this rhyme
    Except when it actually isn’t

  31. Jennifer Rose says:

    oops, not about language, sorry didn’t read the instructions carefully! Disregard entry :(

  32. I truly don’t mean to pick nits-
    Punctuation can give a girl fits!
    But remember this, please
    About apostrophes:
    When possessive, it’s not “it’s,” it’s “its.”

  33. Marc Leavitt says:

    There once was a poet named Dryden,
    Whose language beliefs were quite strident,
    He said with a snort,
    Latin forms, I report,
    English must always be tried in.

  34. Karla Vogel says:

    There was a young man named Dipple
    Who after working, decided to sipple.
    Pulling his specs from his glove,
    Read the above,
    And said, “Oh my, a dangling participle!”

  35. …with a wink at Nettie, above. I’m not sure why mine didn’t post in limerick lines. I’m literate, but sadly not computer-literate!

  36. The irate grammarian said
    (as he slapped himself upside the head),
    “Sentence structure’s awry,
    punctuation’s gone bye.
    Guess the rules for good writing are dead!”

  37. Jaime Bower says:

    No one seems to be good at this language
    In fact most people are below average
    It’s a wonder you see
    that you comprehend me
    most people who speak it often sound savage

  38. Daanando says:

    “A limerick’s last line should be concise.”
    -“In my opinion, funny should suffice.”
    “What about rhyme?”
    -“Not that important, I find…”
    Then we got into a huge fight that lasted for hours, talking about poetic license and what not, but after a while we just agreed to disagree and cracked open a couple of beers.

  39. Jodizzle says:

    There was an old man who thought
    my friends sound different when they talk.
    And it depends if they are in; the North, South, East or West.
    So who is it then, that speaks English the best?
    Is it You’uns in the North, or Ya’ll in the South?
    Who is that speaks the correct words from their mouth?
    So he called all his friends together.
    And asked them to discuss it with each other.
    Then all this commotion erupted.
    And the old man decided, HIS thought was corrupted.

    So the old man announces:
    All this is nonsense.
    Just listen to me.
    Everyone, please be quiet!
    It is too noisy!
    Yes, that is the way.
    It sounds best when everyone has little to say.

  40. Jodizzle says:

    There was an old man who thought my friends sound different when they talk.
    And it depends if they live in the north, south east or west.
    So, who is it than that speaks English the best?
    Is it You’uns in the North or Ya’ll in the South?
    Who is that speaks the correct words from their mouth?

    So he called his friends together.
    And asked them to discuss it with each other.
    Then all this commotion erupted.
    And the old man decided
    HIS thought was corrupted.

    Then he announces; all this is nonsense.
    Everyone, listen to me!
    Please be quiet, It is too noisy!
    Yes that is the way.
    It sounds best when everyone has little to say.

  41. Elizabeth Lowman says:

    Use words well, I beg of you
    Punctuation isn’t hard to do
    A period or comma
    Eliminates drama
    And makes you sound smarter, too!

  42. Helen LaStar says:

    Never keen to be one of the chorus,
    I went and I got a thesaurus.
    Now I traipse when I walk,
    and I prate when I talk,
    but I can’t find a word for “Don’t bore us.”

  43. EM Taylor says:

    There once was a boy from near Brighton
    Whose spelling could surely one frighten
    Always “e” before “i”
    Even “pei” over “pie”
    But he still won the Bee spelling “heighten.”

  44. chompy says:

    what can I do? I’m hooked on limericks and just had to enter another….

    “me” – an object impressive
    “my” – an adject possessive
    “mine, all mine…
    gerrofit, ‘smine
    all mine” – an abject obsessive.

  45. Matthew Wolf says:

    Alanis was drinking a tonic
    While writing a song called “Ironic”.
    Her wedding day’s rain,
    Like traffic, a pain.
    The laughter she caused was sardonic.

  46. Paraic O'Donnell says:

    There was once a pig’s ear of a language,
    Romance scraps in a Jerry-built sandwich.
    Mostly used for rude jokes,
    It became for some folks
    Something nothing was seriouser than which.

  47. Marty G says:

    A young lass with a southern drawl
    Once referred to me as ya’ll
    But when I looked around
    No one else could be found
    Nor did anyone answer my call

    So I gave the young lass a big grin
    After all dialect’s not a sin
    And she gave me a smile
    And we walked down the aisle
    And then she died in the towers called twin

  48. Cate F says:

    There once was a sharp-witted editor
    Whose knowledge always would credit her
    She knew “their” from “there”
    And was willing to share
    Since that’s what an editor edits for.

  49. aedia says:

    In matters linguistic it’s clear
    Orthography ain’t what you hear
    The vowels they do shift
    “Can’t cope with this rift!
    Pass the IPA,” she said, “be a dear.”

  50. plasmaroar says:

    Spelling, you always manage to ruin my day,
    with your most inconsistent and incompetent way,
    I before E, except after C, this is what they see,
    But ceiling has ei after C, this is what I can see,
    There is exception to this rule, despite what they say.

  51. Matthew Wolf says:

    This college professor, a doctor,
    Would write the exams that she’d proctor.
    When grading them after,
    She died from the laughter
    Caused by the bad grammar; it shocked her.

  52. I looked in Misters Strunk ‘n White,
    but what I’d thunk just wasn’t right.
    ‘s why I brung their guide
    To help me decide
    How to teach my students to write (good).

  53. Matt Roehrich (@m_roehrich) says:

    If you’re a self-ascribed grammarian,
    Relax! Don’t be so contrarian.
    If I screw up a comma,
    There’s no need, for drama
    For heaven’s sake we’re all post-lapsarian.

  54. Angie says:

    Oh apostrophe, you tailed, floating dot
    You’re confusing to people, a lot!
    With possession & contraction
    Please spring into action
    But with the plurals, do not!

  55. Here are three limerick submissions. Thanks!

    Sometimes grammar rules feel like a yoke,
    Like a jailer you’re dying to poke.
    Though they live for a reason,
    To break them ain’t treason.
    Cuz guidelines are meant to be broke.

    Edward Lear was a poet quite witty,
    Who wrote verse rather brief, even bitty.
    His birthday’s 12 May,
    So we treasure that day
    In thanks for the limerick ditty.

    A man who was lacking in wit
    Bought a magnetized poetry kit.
    Penning poor verse galore,
    He wrote more — what a bore!
    And ignored those who begged him to quit.

  56. ALiCe__M says:

    There was a girl learning English
    To be was been To fight fought fish
    Adjectives before
    All accents ashore
    And let the vocal chords flourish!

  57. lisa b says:

    There once was a girl from East Hilltop
    Whose punctuation begged her to stop!
    Her commas, went awry,
    Question marks asking why???
    Finally left her with just writer’s block

  58. Daniel says:

    My Bostonian sweetie says “water”
    As those good old New Englanders taught her.
    But me, I say “water”
    As Philly folks should-er
    And so we both speak as we oughta.


  59. joemcveigh says:

    She said she had stopped using “he”
    She said she had stopped using “she”
    “It’s not you, it’s me,” was the reply
    When I asked about her and I
    So now I’ve had to stop using “we”

  60. Happiness fades over time,
    And moping around is a crime.
    But a limerick a day
    keeps a bad mood away
    ‘Cause life only gets better with rhyme!


  61. lisa b says:

    I once took a class on good writin’
    My sentences they were a frightenin’
    My commas were tangling
    Modifiers were dangling
    I’s expelled for apostrophe writin’

  62. Chris Birrane says:

    Old English may seem quite absurd
    with many an erudite word.
    When Shakespeare was King,
    he considered it Bling
    but then again, he WAS a nerd.

  63. Mak says:

    Oh look @ theez teens now a dayz
    Their in a writin rebellious phaze
    They dont seem very wize
    Barely know Wen to CaPiTaLiZe
    Readin there writin iz like solvin a maze

  64. When proofreading great men of letters
    Remember they think they’re your betters.
    They wrote it? They meant it!
    A rule broke? They ‘bent’ it!
    The editors they like are stetters.

  65. And a second one:

    In matters linguistic and verbal
    I’m often reduced to a burble
    I try for a word
    But it comes out absurd
    Having stuck in my throat like a furball

  66. Boo Stad says:

    The English language is a beautiful thing
    When waxed lyrically can make the heart sing
    But I weep when I hear
    Jaxx, Quag, Moonbeam and Speare
    As first names for wide-eyed offspring

  67. People write limericks all the time
    To be witty is an uphill climb
    But they don’t make the lines
    It’s as much about rhythm as rhyme!

  68. …and a little self-criticism:
    These lim’ricks have lots of potential
    To delve into matters essential
    But a verse about verse
    Goes from better to worse-
    It’s exceedingly self-referental.

  69. Thinq McFly says:

    This here will be metalinguistic
    Compulsive were orders as is tic
    A disorder of rhyme
    You’re the reader and I’m
    Finishing all like cataclysmic

  70. Bill Allbright says:

    The bird on the ground ’twas a plover
    laid one egg and then laid another
    when asked for a clue
    as to why there were two
    she said one good tern deserves another

  71. Bill Allbright says:

    The bird on the ground ’twas a plover
    laid one egg and then laid its brother
    when asked for a clue
    as to why there were two
    she said one good tern deserves another

    this is a do – over for the previous

  72. Janet says:

    The humble three dots, or ellipses
    Were discovered by Hungarian gypsies
    The gals needed a way
    To keep periods at bay
    When crossing over mountains and seas

    To conjugate a verb is absurd
    Said the infinitive to the adverb
    You may think it’s a farce
    But there’s no need to parse
    I’m fine as I am, in a word

    A lexicographer from Leeds was displeased
    When his inkwell spilled out on his knees
    In order to spell
    He had to repel
    The lint causing papers to crease

  73. grapeson says:

    All pedants who wind up in hell
    Are no longer able to spell
    And each anguished cry
    Becomes txt: “y god y?
    jk! OMG! LOL!!!”

  74. PK says:

    Not an entry (as I’m Stan’s mate) but just a quick and silly limerick inspired by Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener.


    There was a young man who ‘would prefer not to’
    And this worked his boss into a to-do.
    ‘Bart,’ said the boss,
    ‘Could you tell me the cost
    Were we all to prefer not to too?’

  75. Ian Preston says:

    There is sadly no cause to rejoice
    For that ill-starred grammatical voice;
    There are folk who speak as if
    Verbs put in the passive
    Were almost an immoral choice.

  76. Layla says:

    The rules for use and mechanics
    Are obeyed by linguistic fanatics.
    But others, misled,
    Stand the rules on their heads
    And cause scholars to froth into a panic.

  77. Joe McVeigh says:

    Ok, I couldn’t resist just one more:

    There once was a phrase from Nantucket,
    With a term that rhymed well with “bucket,”
    And it’ll show you
    Just what you can do,
    When you know how words are conducted.

    Thanks for the contest!

  78. Connie says:

    There once was a man from St. Bees
    Who got stung on the arm by a wasp.
    When asked, “Does it hurt?”
    He replied, “No, it doesn’t.
    “I’m so glad it wasn’t a hornet.”

  79. Derek says:

    “A noun-disguised-verb? A gerund?”
    Said the Jester to the Baron.
    “It cannot be ME…
    The wrong pronoun, see?
    MY chaffing’s what keeps you glarin’.”

  80. Oh, what a problem is “it’s”
    It’s driving me out of my wits
    When “its” means “belong”
    the apostrophe’s wrong
    but students think “its” is the pits!

    I wish that my name were Lynne Truss
    who, spotting this error in us,
    put it all in a book –
    you should have a look,
    She made a few million thus.

  81. aqualiquidlava says:

    When a young college student named Olin
    Asked his father what he should enroll in—
    “English or pre-med?”—
    Dad chuckled and said,
    “Either way you’ll be studying colons.”

  82. aqualiquidlava says:

    And another:

    “You know, humans these days are misleading,”
    Said the bird to his brother while feeding.
    “They write books and build schools,
    give their languages rules,
    And then they spend all their time tweeting.”

  83. […] Stan over at the Sentence First blog is running a limerick contest until Friday, September 23rd. First prize is a Kindle so put […]

  84. plasmaroar says:

    Ignor my first submit.

  85. And he took the keys to his car
    The bartender thought he had gone too far
    That it did make him think
    He had so many drinks
    A time traveler walked into a bar

  86. Winnebago and Timbuktu
    Are good words to use if you
    Are feeling too thick
    To write a limerick
    And instead want to write a haiku

  87. This lame attempt at an entry
    Doesn’t seem like it will win to me
    It going along rhyming
    Has impeccable timing
    But ends too soon.

  88. aqualiquidlava says:

    My third and final entry:

    Said the copy desk chief to his manager,
    “This newspaper’s gone to the canister.
    Our stories are clunkers,
    Our writers are drunkards,
    And our editors, bah—they’re all grammateurs!”

  89. Christopher Scribner says:

    The language police should be Tazing
    The people who text awkward phrasings –
    Conventions grammatical
    sent on Sabbatical?:
    It’s linguistic-edifice-razing!

  90. Christopher Scribner says:

    A singer’s a person who sings,
    And a swinger’s a person who swings,
    That’s easy to see –
    So then why can’t it be
    That a finger’s a person who fings?

  91. Christopher Scribner says:

    It’s agreed we conceive a conception,
    And receivers receive at receptions,
    But it’s not clams that clamor,
    And not hams that hammer,
    So do not believe those beleptions.

  92. Sean Jeating says:

    My name is Hans.
    She said: Ha ha Hands
    and hence called me Fingers.
    I tell you that lingers
    and caused me some rants.

  93. Anne says:

    “Until Friday,” she’d said, so I queried
    “You’ll be writing all week?!” I was worried.
    “No, I’ll do it on Thursday,
    you’ll have it on Friday.”
    “By Friday, then, fine.” Out I hurried.

  94. Anne says:

    Krashen wrote about acquisition
    being outside the realm of tuition
    which made me morose
    and take a whole course
    which was fine – but I’m still no magician.

  95. Anne says:

    There can never be any consensus
    Whether German will lull English senses
    Russell Smith got it right
    Spoken softly by night
    by a beauty it surely mends fences.

  96. English grammar seems easy at first,
    but as soon as you’re really immersed
    in adverbials and tenses
    the panic commences
    and you feel like you have just been cursed.

  97. […] and sundry other lingusitic habitats is holding a limerick competition – yeah! – and there are some really great ones there, don’t miss them. Deadline: September […]

  98. MikeG says:

    (please ignore title, if not allowed!)


    A dyslexic Kenyan called Toby
    Moved his mud hut to Spain from Nairobi
    But the rain on the plain
    Soaked his humble domain
    And he cried, “Now I’ve no fixed adobe!”

  99. There once was a mischievous comma
    Who created political drama
    When it jumped in the air
    And just hung up there
    And our Pres became Irish O’Bama.

  100. […] while you’re at it, check out the limerick contest at Sentence First, also sponsored by Stack Exchange English Language and […]

  101. OK, I can’t resist trying a third one:

    When you’re a stylistic obsessive,
    You see words and get all possessive.
    If a line’s badly phrased
    Then your hackles get raised
    And your voice becomes passive-aggressive.

  102. Lisa Liel says:

    Grammarians like to explain
    That the verbing of nouns is inane
    But friending is fine
    It’s no different in kind
    Than contacting me to complain

  103. Mark Twain once insisted that German
    Was “awful.” What set the man squirmin’?
    For the true anglophone
    German’s grammar alone
    Hard to determine the meaning can make.

  104. Elisson says:

    When we transcend this world of meat
    Will language become obsolete?
    Will we transmit our thoughts
    With just ones and with noughts,
    And send poetry down to defeat?

  105. Lisa Liel says:

    There was a young man from Japan
    Whose limericks never would scan
    When asked why this was
    He answered, “Because
    I always try to get as many syllables in the last line as I possibly can.”

  106. MarkR says:

    Break’s my favorite word to say,
    Use it for bread, recess, and crime each day,
    It can be done to feet and also the heat,
    So getting a break makes my day

  107. Mike Page says:

    OK, here’s a heavily self-referential one about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Rhyme works better if Sapir is stressed on first syllable (as it may well be?). The word “her” in the last line should ideally be italicised (not possible here), to attract metrical (and conceptual) stress:

    Refuting the theory of Sapir
    and Whorf, made one linguist much happier.
    Being English, what buoyed her
    was that “Schadenfreude”
    caught her thought in prose so much snappier.

  108. Kit says:

    Prescriptivists are sometimes blue
    But just look at their point of view
    Descriptivists might
    Not always be right
    But they’ll re-write the rules ’til it’s true.

  109. The Australian geek was a wonder
    And of puns there was nobody fonder
    When he downloaded files
    He’d say with a smile
    That they came from a LAN down under.

  110. 1:
    If I’d know the rule then I would of
    Told Sheila, ’cause she really should of
    Used “have” in the place
    Of “of” in the race
    To win, and she really might could of.

    The plural of moose is moose.
    But geese is the plural of goose.
    Two teeth, but one tooth.
    Many hooves, but one hoof.
    But never three lose and one loose.

  111. Please add an “e” to “geese”. #spelling #fail

  112. Wilson says:

    I like the first one best:

    As Lord Byron attempted expansion
    Of his broken-down ancestral mansion,
    All the builders demurred
    ‘Cause of debts he’d incurred
    And his flagrant abuse of traditional scansion.

    – – – – – –

    The roué for her virtue was angling,
    But struck out with his pickup-line-mangling.
    With a giggle she said,
    As she patted his head,
    “Don’t look now, but your part’ciple’s dangling.”

    – – – – – –

    When he noticed a missing apostrophe
    From the sign by the town’s rusting hoss trough, he
    Drew his six-shooter, fired,
    Got the look he desired.
    “Pardner, now it is not a catostrophe!”

  113. A serial comma its role had to ponder
    So to the hills he went off for a wander
    Will my absence be missed,
    If I’m not in each list?
    He asked as he disappeared yonder.

    There once was an apostrophe lover
    Whose grand boasts were believed by his brother
    But his its and his it’s
    Got mangled and mixed
    When he tried to write lies to his mother.

  114. Fazli Sameer says:

    A sentence is made of words,
    put together by literary nerds.
    They comma and exclaim,
    And even hyphen to fame.
    via colon and regurgitating gerds.

  115. MikeG says:

    If disparaged by proud Esquimaux
    For having so few words for snow
    Just concede, don’t be miffed,
    Keep it cool, get my drift?
    Show you know how to go with the floe.

    A young story-teller, named Ella,
    Wrote, at nine, a best-seller novella,
    Then just two years it took her
    To win the Mann-Booker,
    Now Ella’s a stellar Nobeler.

  116. Dammit, I cannot make the second line scan…

    There was once a Galwegian gent
    Who said: ‘not a word’s not an arg[u]ment.
    ‘Don’t let it perturb
    ‘Cos noun’s gonna verb
    ‘Irregardless of how much you vent.’

  117. Bren Strong says:

    Words are like meaning-filled buckets
    If they spill, they’re “seeming”-filled pockets
    One tries to be clear
    But it’s harder each year
    To be clear of feelings in topics

    (Entry 2, posted like a late eBay bid)

  118. kolamba says:

    My second entry for the day, better late than never – heh! heh!: Consonants they are twenty one,
    chasing five vowels on the run.
    From the Tilde to a Question,
    They make their confession.
    In sentences and rhyme, having fun

  119. James says:

    Upon others, grammar rules I’m deploying;
    With their syntax I’m usually toying.
    But they don’t show respect,
    Or even genuflect —
    In fact, most call me annoying :-/

  120. And a last one. I need closure.

    There once was a writer from Cheshire
    Who was desperate for riches and treasure
    Now her brain’s filled with poor rhymes
    And badly-behaved lines
    And she’s abandoned all hope for some leisure.

  121. Bob Broadhurst says:


    When marking childrens English essays,
    Hallelujahs and loud yodellays!
    The grammar excels,
    Great magic spells,
    But the content is **** (please paraphrase).

  122. Marcus West says:

    Marcus West

    As a tit-loving twitcher I ponder
    A distinct part of speech as I wander,
    It has meanings ambiguous,
    And concepts contiguous:
    Ah the joy of the double entendre!

  123. Lisa Liel says:

    Oh, heck. Here’s another one:

    Superfluous commas, are bad
    Wrong apostrophe’s make me quite sad
    But between you and I
    (“You and *me*,” you may cry)
    “It’s” for “its” drives me stark raving mad!

  124. Mike Page says:

    Some more on linguistic relativism:

    If engaged in a contest with Inuit
    in snow-naming, please, discontinue it!
    We can hardly compete
    Using “slush”, “powder”, “sleet”…
    You’ve got to be Inuit to win you it!

  125. There once was a snail called Fargo
    Who asked to be called “escargot”
    But all his friends jeered
    They snickered and sneered
    Poor Fargo just couldn’t go far as “escargot.”

  126. says:

    When Pronouns Date

    When they met he was so demonstrative
    Then possessive and interrogative
    With slurs personal
    And hate reciprocal
    She found they were no longer relative

  127. Jonathon says:

    There once was a master of grammar
    Who all of his fans did enamor
    With his writings on words,
    Both the known and obscure,
    And for more of his posts they did clamor.

  128. Paul Randall says:

    The captain of flight one oh two
    Announced to the cabin and crew
    It’s a little bit risky
    To fly and drink whiskey
    And honey but I’m down with the flu

  129. Lisa Liel says:

    Paul, that’s great. Change the last line to “And honey, but I’ve got the flu”, and it’ll scan perfectly.

  130. Ryan says:

    Thank God for the Serial Comma
    For without it we’d have so much drama.
    It provides quite the twist:
    “I see on the guest list
    Are my exes, your wife and your momma.”

  131. Ryan says:

    There was a poor student whose vice
    Was to join phrases not once but twice
    With wrong punctuation.
    My evaluation:
    The dreaded double comma splice!

  132. J.C. Elkin says:

    I confess I’m confused by descriptors
    whose patterns convey no predictors.
    If bad kids are impish,
    why aren’t good ones wimpish?
    Our grammar requires encrypters.

  133. J.C. Elkin says:

    Hey, it’s only 7pm on Sept. 23. Why does my entry say it’s a day late?

  134. Stan says:

    Bobby: ‘I’m not sure why mine didn’t post in limerick lines’ I don’t know either, but I rearranged it in limerick form. No other edits were made.

    MikeG: Titles are fine, but they don’t (or rather didn’t) bear upon the judging.

    Jess: #spelling #fail duly corrected.

    J.C.: Your entry arrived in Ireland at midnight, hence the “September 24” date. But I included it, of course.

  135. Joe McVeigh says:

    Thanks to Stan and Stack Exchange for the contest. And what a great idea for a contest it was! So much fun to read the entries.

  136. Paraic O'Donnell says:

    I believe that prizewinning decorum
    Enjoins, above all, not to bore ’em.
    So, I’ll say that I’m flattered
    And leave it at that or
    They’ll show me the door of the forum.

  137. Tony Noland says:

    Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Stack Exchange for inspiring this flood of linguistic goodness!

  138. Daanando says:

    Well done to the winners!

  139. […] with our sites, running contests, doing giveaways, hosting events, […]

  140. […] must be new and original and not published anywhere else, on paper or the Internet. (Don’t copy any of these, for […]

  141. Andy Grewar says:

    I realize one thing – punctuation
    Is never a clear situation.
    As an editor,
    You shouldn’t err,
    But commas are such frustration!

  142. Sbosh says:

    I’m studying trying to make sentences on limericks about love or friend can anypone help

  143. Two limericks about Pauline Hansen won lst Prize in an OZWORDS
    competition some years ago. How can I locate them?
    Yasmine Gooneratne

  144. One of the winning limericks ended with the phrase “Please explain”.

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