Longest sentence in the world?

barkeep's picture

I received this email from a very unfortunate chap, it has possible the longest sentence I have ever received.
"Hi, How are you today? I just want to introduce you to a job if you don't mind, I am mullins, a Certified Payroll Specialist (CPS), I am a disable man from New Jersey and I use to encounter a lot of stress when going about my daily payroll activities because I work as a chartered payroll specialist for many companies, and I have to work hard to make my money because nobody want to help me or employ a disable man in a wheel chair like me so that is why I set up my own payroll business and I want to employ anybody as my data entry typist from home, you could be a receptionist, data entry typist, a clerk, a stay at home mom, a student or anybody who has a computer experience with a computer connected with internet at home who want to work on a part time basis and earn extra income, I required a person who will be honest, trustworthy and able to work from home, and who will also handle the printing of letters, notes and checks with the data information of people on payroll list of each company I work for and I will handle the UPS, Fedex or DHL account label which will be made for you to dispatch the letters, notes and checks to various destinations, I will like to know if you will be trustworthy enough to entrust mine and my clients company's vital informations and signatory with you, please I want you to be sure that I will be paying you $1,500 monthly salary for a start, if you performed very well, I will increase your salary to $2200 and to $2,500 as time goes on, please get back to me today to know your interest and if you don't have the materials, I can send you money to purchase all the materials including a computer with internet connection, so if you are ready, then you will need the following materials to start the job"

Theunis de Jong's picture

So just advise him to use Univers Extra Thin Condensed. That'll make it fit on a single line.

jazzhustler's picture

not really a proper sentence though is it? He just doesn't know when a fullstop/period is appropriate.


guifa's picture

My official complaint that I lodged yesterday to Telefónica (set in my still-under-the-works Coruña, looked damned good too if I do say so myself) was only one sentence but it was nine pages long ... and grammatically correct to boot :) Their poor lawyers...

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

oprion's picture

I think the longest sentence I encountered was the "Water Tower" by Victor Pelevin. A entire life story of a man from birth to death in one ever-flowing sentence that ultimately loops unto itself and can thus go on forever.
Personal Art and Design Portal of Ivan Gulkov

John Hudson's picture

There's a great three-page sentence in Malcolm Lowry's October Ferry to Gabriola (required reading for those of us who live on the island) that constitutes one chapter of the book.

James Arboghast's picture

Edgar Allen Poe's stories contain many long, long sentences, some of them taking up one or two pages. Some of Poe's shorter tales are one sentence affairs, the entire story rendered as a single sentence.

j a m e s

russellm's picture

R. Buckminster Fuller wrote a few long sentences too.


Mark Simonson's picture

My favorite long sentence (and one that I sometimes use for testing text settings) is this one from the "Back to Sleep" issue of the Pushpin Graphic (Number 74):


I had just written checks for all the bills that were due that month, and I wanted to go to the post office to get some stamps and mail those checks out, and since I was going in that direction anyway, I thought that I might just as well go to the town dump as well, since I had some trash that needed throwing out, so I put the trash in some of those white plastic bags that you get nowadays, and I started looking around for some of those little wire twisty things that come with the plastic bags, but there wasn’t any, leastways, if there was any I couldn’t find them, and I looked around pretty carefully, but it didn’t matter much because I just twisted the tops of the plastic bags around like into a kind of rope and put a knot in them, which works almost as well as the little twisty things, sometimes better if the bag’s not too full, and I put the trash in the trunk of my car, and then I had to make another trip back to the house because I’d almost forgotten those checks that I wanted to mail, but in the end I did remember them so I went back and got them and then I took off down the road towards the dump, and when I got there I left the motor running while I got out and went around to the trunk and got the garbage out, lifting the bags by the knotted top parts, and I gave them a pretty good heave into the trash pit that they have at the dump there, then I got back in the car and drove off to the post office, but I hadn’t gotten more than a half a mile from the dump when I happened to glance down at the fuel gauge and I noticed that there was less than a quarter of a tank of gas in the car, which represents about three gallons, and since my car gets about thirty miles per gallon, I could have driven another ninety miles without putting a drop more gasoline in the tank, and I wouldn’t have had to sweat it at all, especially since the round trip to the post office and back to my house wasn’t more than five miles at best, so it shouldn’t have made much difference whether I bought more gas or not, (not for that day, anyway) but I got to thinking in a philosophical sort of way about how you never know what life’s going to bring you from day to day, and while I didn’t have anything planned that would require a lot of driving, still, I figured, it wasn’t going to hurt me to put that gasoline in now rather than later, and that way I’d be prepared for anything that might come up, at least with regard to any gasoline that I might need, so what I did was when I got to the post office, I went right on past it, just like it wasn’t there, and I continued on down the street to this gas station that I knew about that was about six blocks further on the opposite side of the street, but I figured that once I got in there and got my gas, I could just turn around right in the station there and then I’d be headed in the right direction to scoot right on back to the post office, which, though you might think otherwise, I hadn’t forgot about in the least, so I pulled on into the gas station, making sure to keep the pumps on my left, because on my car that’s the side that’s got the little gas filler thing and if you get on the wrong side sometimes and you haven’t pulled up close enough, then they have a hard time reaching it with the hose and if that happens then you’ve got to start the car up again and move it a little closer, and as I was pulling up I rolled right over that rubber hose that they put out that makes a clanging noise inside the station so they know that somebody’s pulled up and wants gas, and it made that clanging noise and within half a minute or so this guy comes out wiping his hands on an old rag or something, because he musta been workin’ on something greasy inside, and he didn’t say a word or anything, he just went right to the pump, took the nozzle out of its holder there and cranked the crank on the side of the pump that sets all the numbers back to zero on all the little dials, and he proceeded to pump the gas, so I leaned my head out the window and told him to make it three dollars worth since all I had with me was five dollars and I had to save some of that to buy stamps with at the post office, but actually I got about three dollars and three cents worth because those pumps pump pretty fast and I guess he couldn’t shut it off exactly on the nose, but he only charged me three dollars anyway since I guess that three cents didn’t make much difference to him, but at any rate I gave him the five dollar bill and I waited while he went back in the station and got the change because I guess it’s hard to carry change in your pockets when you are wearing overalls like he was, and when he came back and gave me my two dollars I told him I hoped he would have a nice day and then I started my car up and turned it around right in the station there and headed on back to the post office, where I had to wait a bit in line but I did get those stamps.

I don't know who wrote it. It was set in three ever-smaller sizes depending on the degree of insomnia one was trying to overcome.

jt_the_ninja's picture

I think in these cases, it's time to pull out the original use of punctuation: marking places to catch your breath. Grammar aside, those sentences make my writer sense flash because anyone trying to speak them aloud would have two choices: either to insert a vocal period, or to collapse from asphyxiation.

Yes, I did just pun on "spider sense."


James Arboghast's picture

@jt: anyone trying to speak them aloud would have two choices: either to insert a vocal period, or to collapse from asphyxiation.

You know, writing differs fundanmentally from speech. Speech requires breathing. Writing and reading do not. Besides, most of these examples have places marked with commas, colons and semi-colons to catch your breath.

j a m e s

jt_the_ninja's picture

@james: Even so, it's just a relief to my eyes to see that period/full stop. It tells me I can stop adding to my parsing queue and consider the sentence as a whole for a moment before going on to the next.


fredo's picture

From van Krimpens On Designing and Devising Type:

Both Thibaudeau and I are, of course, thinking of the real vintage, the Garamont shown on Conrad Berner’s Frankfort specimen sheet, and not of the Jean Jannon which, from the Imprimerie Nationale in Paris through many typfoundries and matrices for composing machines, is circulating the typographical world fortunately, because it is not the genuine stuff, under the, as a rule, mis-spelt name of Garamont (with d instead of the correct t).

The book is full of these gems.

But if you're looking for something more intentional there's always the Molly Bloom's Soliloquy; the final chapter in Joyce's Ulysses with Molly Bloom's thoughts written as a stream of consciousness. It's not without punctuation, but they are few.

eliason's picture

A few good (bad) examples of long sentences are here.

pattyfab's picture


On that subject, here's a beaut of a sentence from Sarah Palin:

My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.

Not as long as some of the above examples but pretty impressive nevertheless for it's utter lack of syntax.

solfeggio's picture

Faulkner penned some whoppers, too, but look to Tom Wolfe's "From Bauhaus to Our House" for a two- or three-pager, executed with perfect syntax & grammar. If memory doesn't fail, Wolfe pulled a similar stunt in his "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" as well. (Don't have either book to hand at present, elsewise I'd provide specific references. Sorry.)

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