‘How Many Letters Are in the Alphabet?’ Riddle Answer Explained

Alphabet Riddle Answer

Getty Alphabet biscuits in 1948.

One of many riddles making the rounds on social media asks how many letters are in the alphabet. This is one of many riddles that are circulating right now during the coronavirus pandemic, as people spend more time sheltering at home. Read on to learn more and to see the answer to the riddle.

The question is typically worded in a fairly simple fashion and just asks:

How many letters are in the alphabet?

But the answer might be trickier than you think.

If you’re ready for the answer, read on.

Here’s the Answer to the Alphabet Riddle

The answer is eleven. 

This might not make sense to you at first. You were probably thinking that the question was asking how many letters are in the entire alphabet. Indeed, there are 26 letters in the alphabet, of course. And if that’s your answer, you could certainly make an argument for it.

But as with all riddles, you’ll need to look for the trick in the question. This question is actually asking you to count the letters in the phrase “the alphabet.”

If you count those letters, then the answer is 11 letters.

Some people might make an argument for each unique letter only counting once, so the answer should really be seven. And if that was your response, you can certainly make an argument for that too. But the question doesn’t ask for unique letters, it just asks for letters. Traditionally, the answer people are looking for is 11.

Sometimes people will make it clearer by wording the question like this:

How many letters are in “the alphabet”?

This version certainly makes it easier to think of the answer. It also leaves people with less of a chance to argue for a different answer. This one, if you look at it closely, is clearly wanting you to count the letters in the phrase between the quotes rather than all the letters in the alphabet. So word your question this way if you want to avoid quite so many arguments about the answer. But be prepared for people to think of the answer more easily too.

There’s a similar riddle going around that reads: “How many letters are in the correct answer to this question?” or “How many letters are in the answer to this riddle?” The logic for finding that answer is actually completely different than the logic applied to “the alphabet” riddle. To find the answer to this other riddle, see Heavy’s story here.

This is just one of many riddles that are circulating on sites like Facebook and Instagram during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’ve seen the “How Many Ducks Do You See?” riddle and were stumped, check out Heavy’s explanation here. If you ran into the “I Met a Man on London Bridge” riddle and have no idea what the man’s name is, you can find the answer in Heavy’s story here. The answer to the “You Enter a Bedroom” riddle is here, and the answer to the “Can You Open the Lock Using These Clues?” riddle is here.

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