Longest English sentence

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There have been several claims for the 'longest sentence in the English language' revolving around the longest printed sentence.

Sentences can be made arbitrarily long in various ways. One method is successive iterations, such as

"Someone thinks that someone thinks that someone thinks that nobody thinks that...,"[1] or by combining shorter clauses. Sentences can also be extended by recursively embedding clauses one into another, such as[2][3]

"The mouse ran away."
"The mouse that the cat hit ran away."

This also highlights the difference between linguistic performance and linguistic competence, because the language can support more variation than can reasonably be created or recorded.[1]

As a result, one linguistics textbook concludes that, in theory, "there is no longest English sentence."[4]

Exceptionally long sentences in print[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stephen Crain; Diane Lillo-Martin (1999). An Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Language Acquisition. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-19536-8.
  2. ^ Christiansen, Morten H.; Chater, Nick (1999). "Toward a Connectionist Model of Recursion in Human Linguistic Performance". Cognitive Science. 23 (2): 157–205. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog2302_2.
  3. ^ Thomas R. Shultz (2003). Computational Developmental Psychology. p. 236. ISBN 9780132288064.
  4. ^ Steven E. Weisler; Slavoljub P. Milekic; Slavko Milekic (2000). Theory of Language. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-73125-6.
  5. ^ Waugh, Austin (December 1884). An Accommodating Advertisement and an Awkward Accident . Tit-Bits – via Wikisource.
  6. ^ a b c Jones, Rebecca (3 October 2014). "Longest Sentence". Today. BBC. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. ^ Publishers Weekly: "Solar Bones"
  8. ^ Quartz: "One of this year’s Booker Prize nominees is just a 1,000-page-long sentence" 26 July, 2019
  9. ^ Yellin, Deena (17 April 2019). "For Passover, wacky Haggadahs feature zombies, Mrs. Maisel, President Trump, more". NorthJersey.com.
  10. ^ "This Book Is the Longest Sentence Ever Written and Then Published". Booklife.
  11. ^ "Review: This Book Is The Longest Sentence Ever Written And Then Published by Dave Cowen". Self-Publishing Review. August 2020.