When I take the three words "boy", "meets" and "girl", the sentence "boy meets girl" is correct, but "meets girl boy" is not.

Could you think of three distinct words for which both expressions are correct and make sense?

Note to the downvoters: sorry if this question bothers you. This is my first one of the site. I first posted it on english.stack-exchange, but someone said it would be a better fit here. I agree that there is certainly many correct answers. I just would like one to illustrate a basic programming exercise (i.e., "rotating" the value of 3 variables).

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    $\begingroup$ I take it the words must be distinct, or else there are various trivial examples, such as "Buffalo buffalo buffalo". $\endgroup$
    – paolo
    Oct 20, 2016 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. I edit my question. $\endgroup$
    – Aristide
    Oct 20, 2016 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ Are words that form a question allowed? $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Oct 20, 2016 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Could be made open-ended by changing the challenge to find the longest pair of sentences A B C D ... W and B C D ... W A $\endgroup$
    – humn
    Oct 20, 2016 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ @humn Good idea, but in my opinion your exact suggestion would make the challenge easier (cf. Beastly Gerbil general answers). I think one could make the challenge harder in two distinct ways. 1. find the "De Bruijn sentence" of maximal length (ex. ABC, BCA, CAB would be valid sentences of length 3). 2. find two sentences ABC and BCA where each A, B, C have different meaning / grammatical function in their sentence. $\endgroup$
    – Aristide
    Oct 21, 2016 at 6:59

3 Answers 3


The simple solution is to write


For instance

Sometimes people think and People think sometimes


Slowly I drive and I drive slowly

Another example

Daily they read and They read daily

Another solution found by Jonathan Allan is


For instance

Anyone you know and You know anyone


Somebody we saw and We saw someone

Once again

Others he met and He met others

There can be words with multiple meanings which will work:

On right side (on the right hand side) and Right side on (the correct side is on)

  • $\begingroup$ @Aristide fixed with some correct example $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, it's indeed correct now. Sorry if I wait for some more "interesting" examples (see the added "motivation" part in my post). $\endgroup$
    – Aristide
    Oct 20, 2016 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Aristide I'll try and find other methods beside Adverb, pronoun, verb $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Yes, these are good "general" examples. I'll certainly go with Jonathan Allan's one. But I guess there exist some more playful, non general examples, in which changing the position of the words changes their meaning too... $\endgroup$
    – Aristide
    Oct 20, 2016 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Aristide I actually am looking at multi-defined words write now to see if I can find one like that $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 16:53

Aww sweet:

Someone I love; I love someone


A B C:

Half a cookie

B C A:

A cookie half

  • $\begingroup$ 'A cookie half?' don't think that works $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I'm not an english native speaker. What means "A cookie half"? $\endgroup$
    – Aristide
    Oct 20, 2016 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Aristide it doesn't mean anything, it is not a valid sentence $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ I'm interpreting it with "half" as the noun and "cookie" describing that noun. :P $\endgroup$
    – halfmang
    Oct 20, 2016 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ The second is not something I'd expect to be used regularly but I'd agree with @jstnthms that using half as a noun and cookie to describe that half is valid. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Oct 21, 2016 at 11:04

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