Sam & Sarah Saw Seven Sharks Swimming: Riddle Answer Explained


Anew riddle is making the rounds on social media. This riddle doesn’t actually ask about the sharks at all, but asks about the “S” in the sentence. Here’s a look at the riddle, the answer, and an explanation.

The question usually reads something like this:

Sarah and Sam saw seven sharks. How many ‘S’ are in the sentence?

As with most riddles like this, there’s a trick. The trick lies in just how the question is worded and the answer may not be what you expected.

Ready for the answer? Then read on.

Here’s the Answer to the Riddle

The answer to the riddle is that there is 1 ‘S.’

How could this be?

The trick is that the riddle asks “How many ‘S’ are in the sentence?” Sure, you might think this means the preceding sentence. But it’s actually asking how many of the letter S are in the word sentence. In that case, the answer is one.

This is one of those riddles where it really is logical to argue that the question can be viewed in a different way. You might have counted the S letters in the preceding sentence and guessed more. Or you guessed two because you only counted the last sentence.

Others might make an even better argument for “2” based on the fact that the question asks how many “S” are in the sentence. This looks like it might be asking how many times the letter S was capitalized. If you guessed “2 uppercase” based on Sarah and Sam, you could probably make a pretty good argument for that answer. (Or you could guess 3 uppercase, if you counted the S in the second sentence too. See, it gets confusing.)

The traditional answer, however, is still just one.

This is a hotly debated riddle. There’s even a Reddit discussion about it where people had a lot to say.

One person wrote: “The answer is apparently one. But the riddle makes no sense. It claims that there is only one s in sentence but the question clearly asks in THE sentence.”

There are other opinions too. And some of them get complicated.

One person shared the same riddle, but every word was capitalized in the riddle. They wrote on Reddit:

I was told the answer is one because there is only 1 capital S in the word sentence. The reasoning is, that after S’s, a new sentence has formed, and it’s only referring to S’s in that sentence. Also because that S is capital, that’s why it’s referring to only Capital S’s. I think it’s a poorly made riddle. I’d say the answer is 4. There are only two sentences there. There isn’t a third and there was no mention of a Capital S. Though even if you wanna say that’s part of the riddle, then u say it’s two. 1 is definitely not the answer, but it’s what I was told.

Basically, the sentence about Sarah and Sam isn’t even relevant to the riddle. It’s just an extra sentence. The trick is realizing that we’re just being asked how many S’s are in the (word) sentence.

But another reader argued for 0. They wrote:  “It’s zero. the first sentence doesn’t matter. Because the question asks about THIS sentence, so the string of words that THIS exists in is what we should be looking at. but it’s technically a question, not a sentence, so there are 0 S’s in there because it’s not a sentence.”

As you can see, the more you analyze this riddle, the more confusing it gets. The best solution is to just take the simple response where you’re counting the number of times the letter S appears in “the sentence” and you end up with just one.

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