I suspect there are a great many people who have never heard the term ‘pangram.’ But despite that, most people do know an example of one.
If you ever took a typing course at any point in your life, you had to type a pangram. When you’re learning to type, it can be very helpful.
I never took a formal typing class. When I was a kid, my parents had an old Royal manual typewriter and I played with that long before I knew how to craft sentences or even spell. As I learned those skills, my typing went from gibberish to actual writing.
Out of curiosity, I just took an informal typing test. I scored 72 words per minute, which is probably lower than I actually type. But in that case, I was typing someone else’s words rather than my own. I’m sure, like most people, I type faster when I’m typing what I want to say rather than retyping what someone else already wrote.
That said, the typing test didn’t require that I retype a pangram. If I had, I might have been a bit slower, since I would have certainly had to use more keys.
A pangram, you see, is simply a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, so when you create a pangram, you build a sentence into which every letter is involved.
You surely know one by heart
Most people wouldn’t know what a pangram is by name. But if they saw one sentence in particular, they’d probably recognize it for what it is.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
That simple sentence contains every letter of the alphabet. It fits in all 26 letters in just nine words. It even includes those rarely-used letters like Q, X and Z.
There is such a thing as a perfect pangram. To make one perfect, it can only contain all letters of the alphabet only once each. That means, of course, it can only be 26 letters long. One of the most popular perfect pangrams with words that are recognizable would probably be this one:
Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx.
You can argue that Ph.D. is an academic title and not a word. If that disqualifies the sentence for you, I wish you luck finding a perfect pangram that you’d be happy with.
But here are a few other pangrams that, while not perfect, do use every letter:
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
When zombies arrive, quickly fax Judge Pat.
Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.
I don’t know when I’ve ever spelled out the full word discotheque or why you’d want to rely on Judge Pat over anyone else when zombies arrive. But they at least qualify as pangrams.
And now, in addition to that familiar line about the fox and the dog, you know a few additional examples and the term that describes those clever little sentences!