Garden Path Sentences
The horse raced past the barn fell.
Yes, the above sentence is grammatically correct. After a couple of reads, it becomes clear that it was the horse that fell, after it was raced past the barn.
A garden path sentence is a linguistic pattern in which the start of a sentence leads the reader to believe it will continue in one manner, but then ends in another, preventing it from being parsed correctly. This often leaves the reader feeling tricked and confused, in a delightful manner.
I collected some garden path sentences from around the internet and categorized them below. I left out any sentences that were just missing commas after introductory clauses (e.g. “When Fred eats food gets thrown”).
They’re not as much fun if you know the trick beforehand, so I mixed them up and include a footnote for each linking them to their category. Enjoy!
Examples of Garden Path Sentences
- The horse raced past the barn fell. 
- The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families. 
- The man who hunts ducks out on weekends. 
- Fat people eat accumulates. 
- The man pushed through the door swung. 
- The old man the boats. 
- The cotton clothing is usually made of grows in Mississippi. 
- The girl told the story cried. 
- The woman that whistles tunes pianos. 
- We painted the wall with cracks. 
- I convinced her children are noisy. 
- The raft floated down the river sank. 
- Have the students who failed the exam retake the class. 
- The sour drink from the ocean. 
- The florist sent the flowers was pleased. 
Types of Garden Path Sentences
- Subjects you think are adjectives with verbs you think are subjects
- Verbs you think are prepositional objects
- Objects you think are adjectives
- Past participles you think are verbs
- Prepositions you think belong to the action that actually belong to the object
- Commands you think are questions (¡Not a problem in Spanish!)