Self-referential sentences

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These sentences are self-referential. Those that are phrased as humorous self-contradictory rules are sometimes called fumblerules--a rule of language or linguistic style, humorously written in such a way that it breaks the rule. A related phenomenon is autological words that describe themselves, e.g., 'pentasyllabic' is a five-syllable word.

Examples from From the Casey Stengle School of Brooklynese

  1. Just between you and I, case is important.
  2. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  3. Don't use no double negatives.
  4. A preposition is something you should never end a sentence with. (or as Sir Winston Churchill once said; "This is the type of nonsense up with I will not put!").
  5. It is always good practice to never split infinitives.
  6. About sentence fragments.
  7. Don't write a run-on sentence you have to punctuate it.
  8. When one is writing, it is important to maintain your point of view.
  9. Proofread your work. Do not tolerat mispellings!
  10. Watch out for irregular verbs which have croped into the language.
  11. Don't say the same thing more than once. It's redundant and repetitious.
  12. If the writer is considerate of the reader, he won't have a problem with ambiguous sentences.
  13. This sentence no verb.
  14. You should be aware of the conditional mood if you was to use it.
  15. The smothering of verbs is a cause of the weakening of the sentence impact.
  16. Avoid the utilization of enlarged words when shortened ones will do.
  17. Perform a functional iterative analysis on your work to root out third generation transitional buzz words.
  18. Make sure you hyp-henate properly.
  19. Sentences should be written in the active voice when giving instructions, so that the subject of the action can be identified clearly.
  20. Avoid the use of dyed-in-the-wool cliches.
  21. The defacto use of foreign phrases vis-a-vis plain English in your written tete-a-tetes makes the sentence harder to understand.
  22. Continuity of thought, logical development and smooth transitions are important.
  23. Never leave the reader guessing.
  24. Beware of malapropisms. They are a communist submersive plot.
  25. Join clauses good like a conjunction should.
  26. Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent.
  27. It has come to our considered attention that in a large majority of cases, far too many people use a great deal more words than is absolutely necessary when engaged in the practice of writing sentences.
  28. Be careful of dangling participles writing a paper.

More examples.

  1. Never use no double negatives.
  2. Eschew obfuscation.
  3. Prepositions are not words to end a sentence with.
  4. Avoid clichés like the plague.
  5. The passive voice should never be employed.
  6. You should not use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
  7. It is bad to carelessly split infinitives.
  8. No sentence fragments.
  9. Parentheses are (almost always) unnecessary.
  10. English is the crème de la crème of all languages.
  11. Don't listen to any advice.

Some more examples.[1]

  1. Disobey this command
  2. What is a question that mentions the word “umbrella” for no apparent reason?
  3. I am jealous of the first word of this sentence.
  4. What if there were no hypothetical questions?
  5. This sentence is a !!! premature punctuator
  6. This is not a complete. Sentence. This either.
  7. because I didn’t think of a good beginning for it.
  8. This sentence refers to all sentences that do not refer to themselves.
  9. Be more or less specific.
  10. As long as you are not reading me, the fourth word of this sentence has no referent.
  11. Thit sentence is not self-referential because “thit” is not a word.
  12. I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.
  13. If you think this sentence is confusing, just change one pig.
  14. The whole point of this sentence is to make clear what the whole point of this sentence is.
  15. (A bad pick-up line): If I were to ask you for sex, would your answer be the same as the answer to this question?

A more complete list of fumblerules from the New York Times.[2]

  1. Avoid run‐on sentences they are hard to read.
  2. Don't use no double negatives.
  3. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't.
  4. Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
  5. Do not put statements in the negative form.
  6. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  7. No sentence fragments.
  8. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  9. Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
  10. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  11. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  12. Eschew dialect, irregardless.
  13. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
  14. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
  15. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  16. Hyphenate between syllables and avoid un‐necessary hyphens.
  17. Write all adverbial forms correct.
  18. Don't use contractions in formal writing.
  19. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  20. It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
  21. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  22. Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
  23. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
  24. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  25. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  26. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  27. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
  28. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
  29. Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
  30. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  31. “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation “marks.” ’ ”
  32. The adverb always follows the verb.
  33. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

See also