What’s better than bar jokes for English majors, grammar nerds and writers? When they also serve as mini grammar lessons! These jokes are all over the internet, and unfortunately I couldn’t find the author. But here they are for you, with my lessons.
A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.
A dangling participle is one intended to modify a noun that is not actually present in the text. The second sentence reads as if the evening is enjoying the cocktail and chatting, which makes no sense.
A bar was walked into by the passive voice.
The passive voice when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. Good writers avoid using the passive voice, and instead would write A voice walked into the bar. Passive voice is often used by politicians who are loathe to say they made a mistake, and use the passive voice to say, “Mistakes were made.” It leaves us to wonder who made the mistake.
An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.
Silence and deafening are self-contradicting words defined as an oxymoron. This is not necessarily a grammar error, however. Oxymorons can be effective. I rather like the idea of deafening silence.
Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”
Putting quotations around a word brings attention to it, and not always in a good way. Unnecessary quotes can cause a reader question the validity of the quoted object. Was it really a bar, or was it pretend?
A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.
Can you find the six malapropisms in this sentence? A malaprop is the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with an amusing effect. In this sentence,
1. “intensive purposes” is mistakenly used for intents and purposes
2. “cheap” clothing used for sheep
3. muttering “epitaphs” instead of epigrams
4. casting dispersions mistakenly used for casting aspersions
5. “magnificent other” instead of significant other
6. “granite” instead of granted.
Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.
A hyperbole is an exaggeration so insanely wild that it can’t be taken seriously.
A question mark walks into a bar?
A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.
A non sequitur is a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.
Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”
Papyrus and Comic Sans are type fonts.
A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.
In this case, the two metaphors are not compatible. Compatible metaphors might be “A metaphor walks into a bar, sees the handwriting on the wall and hopes to make a clean slate.” Fo course, the sentence makes no sense, but that’s beside the point.
A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.
A comma splice is when the comma doesn’t connect the two parts of the sentences. Corrected, it would read “A comma walks into a bar, has a drink and then leaves.”
Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.
Do you know what’s wrong with these sentences? Nothing! That’s because intransitive verbs are action verbs that do not need to be followed by a direct object.
A synonym strolls into a tavern.
A synonym is two words that have nearly the same meaning. I guess because people go on tavern strolls or bar strolls, strolls into a tavern makes them synonyms, but personally I don’t think it’s a great example. Unless I’m missing something.
At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.
Really unimaginative examples of clichés! At least they could have been drinking related, as in drunk as a skunk, three sheets to the wind, and fit to be tied.
A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.
Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.
A chiasmus is a construct in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or a modified form, as in falling slowly, softly falling.
A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.
Literally means taken in the strictest sense. If someone literally walked into a bar, they walked into the building (as opposed to using the door to go inside.) Figuratively means with a more imaginative meaning or in a metaphorical sense. Here, the figure didn’t get hammered as in drunk, he was hammered when he hit the wall of the bar.
An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.
An allusion an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly, or an indirect or passing reference. An Achilles heel is a shortcoming or failing. So alcohol is the shortcoming of this allusion.
The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.
A subjunctive verb denotes an action that has not yet occurred
A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.
The modifier is the glass eye, and because it’s misplaced in this sentence, it reads as if the eye is named Ralph. It should read The modifier walks into a bar owned by a one-eyed man named Ralph.
The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.
Hopefully this needs no explanation!!
A dyslexic walks into a bra.
(If you’re dyslexic, this may not be funny.)
A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.
I’ll let you look up the definition of a conjugated verb!
An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars.
The Oxford (or serial) comma is the final comma in a list of things, and it’s missing in this list! It should read An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.
A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.
A simile is comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.
A gerund is a verb with -ing, an infinitive is a verb with to preceding it.
A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.
The irony is there’s no hyphen in hyphenated, and there is a hyphen in non-hyphenated!
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters