The English Lesson
- We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes;
- But the plural of ox should be oxen, not
- Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese,
- Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
- You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
- But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
- If the plural of man is always called men,
- When couldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
- The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
- But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
- And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
- But I give a boot--would a pair be called beet?
- If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
- Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
- If the singular is this and plural is these,
- Why shouldn't the plural of kiss be called kese?
- Then one may be that, and three may be those,
- Yet the plural of hat would never be hose;
- We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
- But though we say mother, we never say methren.
- The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
- But imagine the feminine: she, shis and
- So our English, I think you will all agree,
- Is the trickiest language you ever did see.
- I take it you already know
- Of tough and bough and cough and
- Others may stumble, but not you
- On hiccough, thorough, slough, and
- Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
- To learn of less familiar traps?
- Beware of heard, a dreadful word
- That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
- And dead; it's said like bed, not bead;
- For goodness' sake, don't call it deed!
- Watch out for meat and great and threat.
- (They rhyme with suite and straight and
- A moth is not a moth in mother,
- Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
- And here is not a match for there.
- And dear and fear for bear and pear.
- And then there's close and rose and lose--
- Just look them up--and goose and choose.
- And cork and work and card and ward,
- And font and front and word and sword.
- And do and go, then thwart and cart.
- Come, come, I've hardly made a start.
- A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
- I'd learned to talk it when I was five,
- . . . And yet to write it, the more I tried,
- I hadn't learned it at fifty-five!