Anecdotes for word-lovers

Much fun can be had with the English language, some of which is quite thought-provoking. One particular favourite of mine is: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

This just shows how parts of speech can change, without much evidence of change in writing or sound to the listener:

grammatical parts grammatical term
Time subject (the thing doing the action)
flies verb (the action or thing being done)
like an arrow. complement (additional elements)
Fruit flies subject
like verb
a banana. complement

If the second phrase were to retain the grammatical parts of the first, it would be most odd: fruit (it) flies like a banana.

grammatical parts grammatical term
Time subject (the thing doing the action)
flies verb (the action or thing being done)
like an arrow. complement (additional elements)
Fruit subject
flies verb
like a banana. complement

This shows the difference between these two examples more clearly, with the changing subjects in bold italic and the verbs in italic.

In table 1 above:
Time [it] flies like an arrow. Fruit flies [they] like a banana.

In table 2 above:
Time [it] flies like an arrow. Fruit [it] flies like a banana.

 

Here is the full list for your amusement:

  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  • What’s the definition of a will? It’s a dead giveaway.
  • A backward poet writes inverse.
  • In democracy, it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your count that votes.
  • She had a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but broke it off.
  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • If you don’t pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
  • With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.
  • When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
  • The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
  • A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
  • You feel stuck with your debt, if you can’t budge it.
  • Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.
  • He often broke into song, because he couldn’t find the key.
  • Every calendar’s days are numbered.
  • A lot of money is tainted. Taint yours and taint mine.
  • A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
  • He had a photographic memory which was just never developed.
  • A plateau is a high form of flattery.
  • The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
  • Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
  • When you’ve seen one shopping centre, you’ve seen a mall.
  • Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine.
  • When an actress saw her first strands of grey hair, she thought she’d dye.
  • Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
  • Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.
  • Acupuncture is a jab well done.
  • Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of defeat.