Thursday, June 2, 2011

Led down the garden path

Led down the garden path is an idiom, meaning deceived someone by giving him or her the wrong information.

In the English Language, there are some phrases or sentences that are also known as garden path sentences. It’s not actually used to deceive anyone but that the way it is written makes the person THINK in a certain way which will lead up to a dead end initially.

The horse raced past the barn fell, which I wrote in my previous blog, is one such garden path sentence.

The reason for the confusion is that our minds think logically when we read and we put together words as they form.
In other words, we are conditioned to think in a structured manner.
When we come across a garden path sentence, we get stumped because it does not make sense as we build the image in our heads.

Try this for example,

The cotton clothing is made of grows in the USA.

Doesn’t make sense the first time, right? 
Read it again……
still doesn’t make sense?

That’s because your mind is reading it as ‘cotton clothing’.
Now try reading it again as ‘The cotton’ instead. Get it?
As in...The cotton (clothing is made of) grows in the USA.
You were just led down the garden path!

I first learned about this language quirk when I was reading a Charlie Brown Snoopy cartoon. The cartoonist Charles Schultz quoted a Bible verse from the Book of Jobs: “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards”.  I couldn’t understand it at all for a long time and when I finally did, it appeared so simple that I kicked myself for my own lacking.

So don't feel bad if you can’t figure out The horse raced past the barn fell.

Here’s something else you can try to see if your mind fools you every time, or if you believe you are as smart as you think.

Read this….


How many letter ‘F’ can you find in the above sentence. Count them and compare the results below… No peeking till after you count. Ok? It’s not a trick.

How many Fs did you find?

If you found 2 - you need your eyes checked. Use the above chart.
If you found 3 – you are just average and normal.
If you found 4 – you are above average.
If you found 5 – you are good.
If you found 6 – you are a genius.
The answer is 6.
If you didn't get 6, go back and re-count.
There are really 6 Fs in plain sight and this time you'll laugh at yourself.


  1. yeah, a genius i am - your sister, no guessing which one

  2. ....why do i feel foolish counting the "F"s.....guess i was led down the garden path after the horse raced past the barn fell....duh