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‘Number of Letters’ Riddle Is Stumping the Internet

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We love a good puzzle or brain teaser, so when we heard about the latest riddle making the rounds on the internet, we just had to check it out. But brace yourselves, riddle enthusiasts: This one is a bit of a head-scratcher.

The trick question asks, “What has four letters, sometimes nine letters, but never has five letters?” You’re not alone if you’re a little confused. How could a word have a different numbers of letters in it? Could it be a common phrase or saying, with a few words simply removed? Could it be a more general topic with lots of specific examples, like dog breeds? We’re so lost!

As it turns out, this riddle’s “question” isn’t actually a question at all, as many quick-thinking folks on the internet were eager to point out. Allow them to explain: Take a close look at the words “what,” “sometimes,” and “never” in the question and spell them out, one by one.

As we all know, the word “what” spelled out is w-h-a-t, meaning there are exactly four letters in that word — just like this riddle says.

Next, “sometimes” is spelled out as s-o-m-e-t-i-m-e-s — and you can probably see where this is going, right?

Now, say the riddle’s question as a statement and see how well it makes sense: “What has four letters, sometimes nine letters, but never has five letters.”

We know we had a lot of guesses up our sleeves, but we certainly didn’t expect this out-of-the-box answer. Maybe we should challenge our friends and see what odd answers they give.

But if you did get it right, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back. That was a real mental workout!

Next, check out some of the funniest and craziest Japanese game shows that’ll make you so glad you’re not participating:

h/t Quora

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