Buffalo written eight times is a grammatically correct sentence that sounds crazy but actually means something. To crack the code of this mystical combo, there are diagrams, articles and videos all over the internet. Some can be helpful, others make an already confusing sentence even more confusing. Everyone learns differently, so maybe our color-coded explanation will help you see what others cannot.
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So What’s the Sentence?
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
How Does This Work as a Sentence Exactly?
It’s all a case of lexical ambiguity, which is a fancy way of saying more than one meaning for a single word. In this sentence buffalo has three different meanings and functions as a verb, proper noun and a noun.
Why is This Sentence so Confusing?
There is no punctuation.
Other than the use of capital letters, every word in the sentence is exactly the same.
Words like “that” and “which” usually bring clarity to a sentence. Here they have been omitted.
Let’s See if a Little Color Can Help
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
Buffalo– (Proper noun) The name of a city in New York state
Green buffalo has two jobs. It is a proper noun indicating the name of a city and it is a modifier telling us where the simple subject buffalo comes from. Think about it like Chicago bear.
buffalo– (Noun) The animal also known as bison.
In this case, buffalo is a plural noun. Sure it would have been easier if the other acceptable plural buffaloes was used, but where’s the fun in that?
buffalo– (verb) meaning to confuse or intimidate
Just in Case Colors Alone Aren’t Enough
Buffalo buffalo (bison from New York) Buffalo buffalo buffalo (that confuse bison from New York) buffalo Buffalo buffalo (confuse Bison from New York)
At the end of the day, it makes sense right? Why would buffalo from the same place want to confuse each other? But who are we to point fingers? With sentences like this, it seems that humans like to buffalo each other too.