Cna Yuo Raed Tihs?

By Daniel Scocco

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Today while opening my email I came across a very interesting message from a friend. It was basically a message where the letters of each word were all scrambled. The first and the last letters were kept intact, but between them they were all mixed. Surprisingly enough I could read it perfectly. Below you will find the message. Can you read it?

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghi t pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

They say that only 55 people out of 100 can read that way. I would believe this number to be higher (considering that I never found someone who could not read it). What do you think?

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70 Responses to “Cna Yuo Raed Tihs?”

  • Dean

    Received this email a couple of months ago. As the “scrambled” email says, the human mind reads things not by letter, but by word, so yeah. I found it pretty cool, too. πŸ˜€

  • Adam Cederblom

    I’d always understood that the human mind reads the shape of the word rather than the letters, so it doesn’t surprise me that I could read the message perfectly and quickly. I suppose that, at times, one might become confused if the shape of the word became deranged, but other than that, it should be fine. This is also a reason, according to some journalism classes I’ve taken, that one is not supposed to use all capitals in body text (though it’s fine for headlines if used judiciously). It’s easier to confuse an all-caps word than a sentence-case word. Is it true? Maybe the Daily Writing Tippers will know.

  • David Hamilton

    Got to be higher than 55 in 100. If that were true, proof reading wouldn’t be so hard for most people.

  • Michael

    It made sense to me.. πŸ˜›

  • Farfield

    I think everybody can read it when they take some time. But maybe the 55 percent is more about people who can read it without a lot of extra effort? For me it’s no problem, and I was quite amazed by it!

  • Rhonda

    Interesting. I read through this paragraph just fine, although I suspect those of us reading it here have strengths in reading and writing, which probably helps.

    It also helps that the words are all familiar, which our brain picks up on, and we have the power of context to help us once we get started. If there were lots of uncommonly used words in the paragraph, it probably wouldn’t be as simple for us read.

  • Robin Capper

    So why bhtoher wtih sepll chcek?

  • Matt Tuley, Laptop for Hire

    I read it at speed with no problem. For reasons others have mentioned, I suspect the proportion of people on this site who can read it without difficulty will be much higher than 55%. We’re just into words, you know?

  • Arun

    I think that people who have got some reading disabilities can’t read and understand this rest of them can easily read the same with not difficulty. Anyway this is an interesting blogpost and an excellent discovery by the university/


  • hediye

    perfect and easy

  • Mari Adkins

    I’m dyslexic, so I never have any problems with that “test” whenever it crops up. πŸ™‚

  • Mari Adkins

    I think that people who have got some reading disabilities can’t read and understand this

    Some would, yes, but that would depend upon their disability and how severe that disability was. As I said above, I’m dyslexic. Slightly when it comes to letters, but more so when it comes to numbers; I’m one of those weird people who got straight As in reading and grammar and failed every math class I ever took.

  • Maeve

    The fact that we can read these scrambled spellings is pretty cool.

    Unfortunately, this phenomenon has led educators to believe that what is true for the adult mind, experienced in reading, must be true for beginning readers as well. The result is the so-called “whole word” method of beginning reading instruction that teaches children to recognize words by their shape rather than teaching them how to work out new words by letter and sound.

    As Rhonda points out, DWT readers are likely to be experienced readers, and the words in the selection are common ones.

    It’s a fun post, but I’d caution parents of young children against throwing phonics and spelling out of the equation of beginning reading instruction.

    I’m posting another “reading” exercise in the Forum. See how easily you can read that one. πŸ™‚

  • Rajeev Edmonds

    I think over 80% can read this scrambled text easily. The brain sees the characters as a whole, and interprets the correct word. Amazing…

  • Deborah

    Ok. Now I want to slap somebody. But this reminds me of a conversation with the U.S. Army’s top museum specialist. She told me that it is very hard to read information written in all capital letters. If the above scrambled text had been in all caps, it would have been much more difficult to read.

    She told me that any informational signs (like you’d find in a museum) should be lettered in ordinary text.

  • Sameer

    Old ‘un…

    Nice… I can read such stuff at the same speed I read normal stuff…But I think it’s difficult for the writers to write like this… πŸ˜›

  • Charlie

    Ahte ot teem the ohtre 45 rpecent!

  • LuAnn

    I imagine that knowing the context of what you are reading plays a large part of being able to read this. Knowing you are reading about scrambled words leads your mind into commonly used words that might be used to convey those thoughts.

    I grew up with phonics, but my boys didn’t. Big difference in reading comprehension and even pleasure in reading! I tried to teach them but the teachers here in FL actually demanded that I quit teaching them as they thought I was screwing them up and slowing them down. Funny, I could read before first grade with no problems (no kindergarten back then for me).

  • Maeve

    Beginning reading instruction is a particular focus on my site

    If you’d like to share your experience with other parents, I’d be glad to look at a guest column.

  • Gary

    The spammers have been doing this or trying to for years…LOL

  • Maeve

    Here’s the Forum link:

  • Qatgirl

    That’s absolutely true that all-caps are harder to read. Any typographer knows this; it’s the corollary to the rule that people recognize a word by it’s “shape”. Of course, that is after people have learned to read. (And since many people have not learned to read well, THAT is why we spell check!)

    And yes, CONTEXT is the reason that most people can easily read that jumbled text. Take any of those longer words out of context, and you’ll be scratching your head.

    Interesting to me is that my brain tried to read “aulaclty” (“actually”) as “audacity”!

  • Thomas Nicholson

    I got this from a friend in email a few years ago. We still write emails to each other in that format from time to time. We both have met at least one person that couldn’t see it even after we showed them. To funny. I guess the ADD is good for something.

  • Eugene

    This text has been circulating since 2003. And there’s no evidence that a research was done on scrambled words by Cambridge University. See this Urban Legends article:

  • E. I.

    What I found in my case is that I omit words.

    So for example let’s say I want to say:

    I went to the store to buy milk

    I would type:

    I want to the store buy milk

    -what drives me nuts is that I actually miss these type of things all the time even after proof-reading.

    another one is “omitted vs. omit it” and words like that…

    Do others have the same issue?

  • Rhonda

    Kudos to what Maeve said. I used to teach special education in the public school, and our district provided a very well researched phonics-based program for students. It was fast paced, repetitive, and my students enjoyed it. Many of them made a year’s progress in reading in a year’s time, and that was for students who had special needs.

  • Daniel Smith

    That is incredible, and a really neat indicator of the power of the human mind. I agree with some above who suggest that the 55 percent metric may refer to those who can literally read that paragraph as fast as they can a normal one. I was amazed that I was able to just whiz through, only needing to stop once (at “strange”.) Of course, most people could decode it given enough time… not exactly the toughest collection of “word jumbles.”

    I’ll definitely drop a link here on my blog later today (And I have added you to my RSS reader as well), nice post and keep up the good work!

    Daniel Smith
    Smithereens Blog

  • Buffet

    I dare say the figure would be more like 100 out of 100 – unless you’re an ultra maroon?

  • guardian angel

    Yes, this is old stuff. I learned about this even when I wasn’t blogging yet.

    But what I clearly noticed is that you made a correction on “I never found someone WHO could not read it”. When I received this article through subscription, the WHO is THAT instead.

  • OldSailor

    Interesting. I could read it easily. I agree that we read a word as a whole not by reading each alphabet in a word.

  • MostMoon

    It’s aainmzg taht I, as a non-ntivae sepeakr, can raed the avboe slmrecabd lterets wuitoht any dulfitcfiy. Mybae it’s the msot iienttrsneg erpcneiexe taht I hvae eevr had.

  • Denis

    This is the technique some spammers use to pass not-very-sophisticated spam filters.

    They deliberately misspell the words that, if spelled correctly, would trigger spam filters. Sometimes they replace characters with similar looking ones (e.g. o/0, l/I/1, ), and sometimes I see words scrambled like in this post.

    I’m sure if you take a look into your SPAM folder (in case you have one), you’ll be able to spot quite a few “scrambled” words in message subjects.

  • Bob Clay

    Some years ago I used to do a little voluntary teaching for adults with reading difficulties. The fact is people ‘scan’ rather than read since the mind seems to move much faster than the eye. The actual reading speed is much higher than you might think. This is particularly noticeable if you make people read out loud, which brings their reading speed down to ‘eye speed’ rather than ‘scan speed’.

    So your mind automatically re-arranges the letters providing it has some good reference points (first/last letters plus meaning).

    This sort of thing starts to lead you into the weird and wonderful world of codes.

  • Tony

    Actually, the order of the letters does matter. I can’t repost the original article, nor could I find a link to it such that everyone could get to it. However, this blog describes the results fairly well:

  • AKZ

    yea i think anyone who can read english can read that. wonder if it is the same with other languages..

  • Ahmad

    A good experience,
    The first time I saw the title”Cna yuo raed tihs?” , I found out that I’ve just read some thing unusuall but intresting that I understood it .
    Then it made me more eager to read the whole message .
    I’ve got that the writer of that message had not a specified rule to change the word misordered .
    Any way It was kind of nice , intresting and good experience .

  • Eva G.

    I wonder if the “55 out of 100” number gives us a glimpse into the state of illiteracy. For people who know how to read, especially those that read well, this is very easy to identify the what words are made up by those letters, but it’s not easy for those who have no word comprehension whatsoever.

  • Maeve

    Thanks for the link. I’d like to emphasize a sentence from that article:

    This and many other studies have made it clear that we don’t recognize words by whole shapes, but use letter information to recognize words.

    A lot of nonsense is written about English spelling. The fact remains that writing is a sound code. Instead of fixating on the “exceptions,” educators would do well to give beginning readers a solid grounding in the reliable letter/sound correspondences before introducing the exceptions.

  • Meryl Evans

    Yes, that one has floated around for a long time. And so has the Finished Files…

    Amazing what the human mind can do.

  • vasanth

    I think human mind is get used to common ENGLISH words that we use everyday (in school, office and home) . So it’s easily pick-up them base on past memory and translate it correctly. Can mind read any other languages which we never use before?

  • Le Yen

    Oh, that’s so amazing! They said that only 55 people out of 100 can read that way. But I think this number should be higher. Because when you chat with your friends in the internet, sometimes you will have a false spelling, but they still get it. I’ve tried (long sentences) wiht my friends, they can get it.
    Hihi, I’m studying English, and I have some problems with the articles, vocabulary, grammar… I hope that you can understand my mistake.

  • Monkey

    This phenomenon well explains why Chinese characters and other similar language is so beautiful. Each character is a picture that depicts how our ancestors lived and by these characters culture is inherited from generations to generations and so it is with way of thinking, philosophy.

  • fadya

    the human mind reads pictures,and signs,if some one started to read a word letter by letter it may be difficult for him to understand that message,but the fact is that the mind takes the whole picture of that word then it compairs that picture to some other pictures of words in what I call our linguistic memory,and if it matched,you can easly read it.

  • SARA



    My 10 year old read this with no problem without slowing down.

  • hanna

    wow i dident even know that the words were scrambled i mean it was way easy to read it hanna

  • hanna

    me too im ten

  • hanna

    my mom could read this paragragh but my brother didnt even bother to and my dad he could barley read this paragragh so i guess me and my mom both have strange minds **********Princess**********

  • BrandenRose

    It was a little difficult for me to read, but I am nitpicky and find errors in books and spelling and such. The “55 percent” who can read it without difficulty, is there any difference between men and women, left and right handed people, age, etc?

  • marTin

    First, I have to say that this site is absolutely fantastic. I love to read all these interesting contributions and comments. I could read the above article easily and I’m not a native speaker.

    Regarding posting no.28 from Buffet: Isn’t “daresay” one word instead of two (dare say)? I daresay that “I dare say” might be not the right choice, or am I wrong here?

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