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2 men are at a river. There is a boat. It holds only one person at a time.

They both cross the river and continue their way...

How?

P.S. No Uber, helicopters, bridges, ropes, or anything else close by and the river isn't swimmable.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice one! :-) Would a lateral-thinking tag be appropriate for this? $\endgroup$ – Phylyp Mar 31 '18 at 17:31

10 Answers 10

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Is the answer perhaps:

that the two men started at opposite sides of the river, and were travelling in different directions?

Thus:

one man gets in the boat, crosses to where the other man is, and continues on his path; the second man crosses the river, returning the boat to where it started, and goes on his merry way

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  • $\begingroup$ Yep that's the one $\endgroup$ – Heiko Hatzfeld Mar 31 '18 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @HeikoHatzfeld ....but what's with that title? $\endgroup$ – Rubio Apr 2 '18 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ it complained it was to short ;) $\endgroup$ – Heiko Hatzfeld Apr 2 '18 at 17:41
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No lateral thinking tag, but still:

They walked across because the river was frozen over.

The other solution is for them to:

use the boat as a flotation device with one or both of them in the water, depending on the available buoyancy.

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While I will defer to puzzledPig's answer as the better one, I would also propose that:

Either one or both of the men swam across the river.

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    $\begingroup$ Ha! Nice one - I didn't even think of that... :) $\endgroup$ – puzzledPig Mar 31 '18 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Added a non swimmer disclaimer ;) $\endgroup$ – Heiko Hatzfeld Mar 31 '18 at 17:35
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It may be trivial as an answer, but

maybe the river had the same width as the length of the boat - or perhaps the boat plus an oar so that after arriving on one side the person who just crossed can push the boat into a position where the person on the other side can reach it. - Maybe by holding an oar at the end and pushing the boat to the far side.

Alternatively

one gets in the boat and the other gets into the river - neither can swim, but the one in the water holds on to the back of the boat so that he does not drown, but is pulled across by the boat.

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Skipping the usual lateral thinking answers, here's a more unusual one:

The men were water quality inspectors, who got their water sample, and then crossed the river off their list of rivers to inspect, and continued back to wherever it is that water quality inspectors come from.

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  • $\begingroup$ Should make it clearer that their destination is on the other side... $\endgroup$ – Heiko Hatzfeld Mar 31 '18 at 20:38
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PuzzledPig's solution only works if a certain precondition is met. Here is a more general solution.

If both men are on the same side of the river,

One crosses the river... then crosses back. The second one then crosses. Now they've both crossed the river. The word "crossed" doesn't require that they "stay on the other side."

If not,

One crosses the river... The second one then crosses. They've both crossed the river.

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They walked across.

It was a river of a non-Newtonian liquid such as custard.

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Trivial one:

They crossed the river. Literally. The river was shallow enough to walk through. They got a bit wet, though.

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Perhaps

One of them crosses the river with the boat, and the other one takes a long hike to find a way to circumvent and thus "cross" the river (by walking around it).

Or, if the tide is right,

One of them crosses the river on the boat, pushes the boat back with enough force to eventually reach the other side, and then the other person crosses.

This would be made easier if

The boat has a motor which allows it to be propelled without anyone having to be inside to drive it.

Or, perhaps we are living in the future, and

It is a self-driving boat.

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Lateral thinking answer:

They are in a 4-dimensional space and crossing the river was no problem at all, because a river is essentially 1-dimensional and you have an extra dimension to move around compared to our 3D space.

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