Each of these sentences contain two phrases¹ that follow a particular theme:

  • The muffler fell off on the outside lane.
  • It was a homely semi.
  • Would you like some lemonade with your flapjack?
  • She dropped her purse in the toilet.
  • Mike ordered a pint of cider.
  • Dennis the Menace was a popular comic in Birmingham.
  • The bathroom is on the first floor.

Can you work out the theme and find all the phrases?

¹ phrase = one or more words


11× one-word phrases
2× two-word phrases
1× three-word phrase

Post-answer summary (spoilers!)

One thing I enjoyed when writing this was knowing that people would have pictured contrasting scenarios. I worded each sentence so that they work in either context. I found it interesting that "homely semi" has not only a vastly different noun, but pretty much a polar opposite adjective.

I also found it odd that both Dennis the Menace comics debuted not only the same year, or the same month, but the same day: 12th March 1951!

  • $\begingroup$ Are the two phrases contained in the lines or do we have to use the lines as clues to find the phrases? $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Oct 1, 2017 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Sid The two phrases are contained in each sentence, so a total of 14 phrases. $\endgroup$
    – rybo111
    Oct 1, 2017 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have to respell the words or do you just move them around? $\endgroup$
    – Dr t
    Oct 1, 2017 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Drt There's no respelling or moving to be done. The phrases appear as they are with no tricks. It's more a case of working out what they are and what the link is between them all. $\endgroup$
    – rybo111
    Oct 1, 2017 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


I think these are all

words or phrases that are different in British and American English/culture.


muffler (Amer.) = car silencer (Brit.)
outside lane: the faster lane (Brit.) vs. the slower lane (Amer.)
homely: cozy (Brit.) vs ugly (Amer.)
semi: a semidetached house (Brit.) vs semi-trailer truck (Amer.)
lemonade: lemon soda (Brit.) vs "traditional" lemonade (Amer.)
flapjack: granola bar (Brit.) vs. pancake (Amer.)
purse: money holder (Brit.) vs. handbag (Amer.)
toilet: dressing room (Brit.) vs. the receptacle (Amer.)
pint: 568 mL (Brit.) vs. 16 US fl. oz. (Amer.)
cider: fermented (Brit.) vs non-fermented (Amer.)
Dennis the Menace: different comic strips
Birmingham: different cities
bathroom: where the bath is (Brit.) vs where the toilet is (Amer.)
first floor: above the ground floor (Brit.) vs. the ground floor (Amer.)

  • $\begingroup$ Bravo! Did you research or just know? $\endgroup$
    – rybo111
    Oct 3, 2017 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ Knew some, but mostly had to look them up. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2017 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ OK I would never have gotten that one figured out. Never. $\endgroup$
    – Dr t
    Oct 4, 2017 at 19:41

It looks like the most meaningful way to answer this is to split the statements/sentences into phrases according to the verb or the element of the sentence that is functioning as the verb (maybe an adverb). It would look like this:

  1. The muffler fell // off on the outside lane
  2. It was // a homely semi.
  3. Would you like // some lemonade with your flapjack?
  4. She dropped // her purse in the toilet
  5. Mike ordered // a pint of cider
  6. Dennis the Menace was // a popular comic in Birmingham
  7. The bathroom is // on the first floor.
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, that's not right. I'll give a hint in the question. $\endgroup$
    – rybo111
    Oct 2, 2017 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ With all due respect, I don't understand how this is an answer, and not just restating the question. $\endgroup$
    – MikeQ
    Oct 3, 2017 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeQ Given the information at the time my approach was to divide the sentences into phrases based on the verb or what component of the sentence was acting in the manner similar to a verb. Given new information that was obviously wrong. It doesn't seem like an issue that requires a down-vote...It is clearly not just a restatement of the question... $\endgroup$
    – Dr t
    Oct 4, 2017 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Drt Not my downvote. But this doesn't seem like a substantive answer, beyond pointing out that the sentences contain verbs (as do most complete sentences). Was this supposed to be a partial answer, that you intended to finish later? $\endgroup$
    – MikeQ
    Oct 4, 2017 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeQ It was a starting point hoping to nudge the question owner to add a hint...which he/she did. I posted that answer after breaking down the sentences in about 50 different ways and finding that the commonality was the verb, which most sentences have. I would agree that it is not a substantial answer. I am still determined to find the right answer... $\endgroup$
    – Dr t
    Oct 4, 2017 at 19:38

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