Can you count? Are you sure?

By Ron Pereira Published on April 5th, 2010

If you’ve ever gone through some form of continuous improvement training you may have done this little experiment.

But in case you haven’t, I’d like to challenge you to count the number of times the letter “F” (upper or lower case) is used in the following paragraph.

Post your guess, I mean answer, in comments section.  Ready?  Go!

The necessity of training farm hands for first class farms in the fatherly handling of farm live stock is foremost in the eyes of farm owners. Since the forefathers of the farm owners trained the farm hands for first class farms in the fatherly handling of farm livestock, the farm owners feel they should carry on with the family tradition of training farm hands of first class farmers in the fatherly handling of farm live stock because they believe it is the basis of good fundamental farm management.

  1. Jim Stevenson

    April 5, 2010 - 2:58 pm

    I got 27 the first time and 29 the second time so let’s call it 28! What do I win if I’m right?

    • Antony

      September 23, 2011 - 12:11 am

      Its 31 .. Good Exercise

  2. Sherry Williams

    April 5, 2010 - 3:17 pm


  3. John Stoneham

    April 5, 2010 - 8:39 pm

    36. Everybody misses the ‘of’s!

  4. karolina

    April 6, 2010 - 4:46 am


  5. Jan Jochmann

    April 6, 2010 - 5:57 am

    I got 29 the first time, 33 second time 🙂

  6. Nancy Goodrich

    April 6, 2010 - 6:56 am

    36. I knew to count the “f’s” in “of” Have a great day!

  7. Susan

    April 6, 2010 - 7:08 am


  8. Del Ames

    April 6, 2010 - 7:22 am

    I have 38.

  9. Jeremy Garner

    April 6, 2010 - 7:38 am

    35 the first time, 36 the second time.

  10. Shirley Horton

    April 6, 2010 - 7:40 am

    I got 29,

  11. Bernardo Gómez Baranda

    April 6, 2010 - 7:49 am

    I got 36 🙂

  12. Ann

    April 6, 2010 - 7:56 am

    36 – amazing how easy it was to miss the F’s!

  13. erin

    April 6, 2010 - 8:27 am

    I can’t see 36 F’s for the life of me!

  14. Wilson

    April 6, 2010 - 8:51 am

    I got 35, But reading the post some says 36, so I need to count every line again and count F’s by line. And finally I found the F’s missing.
    36 is my number.
    Good excersice. If we can’t count properly, imagine when we ask the people in the shopfoor they pay attention and found the failing parts!!

  15. Katie

    April 6, 2010 - 9:18 am

    I got 35…and I tried really hard to find them all, but still missed one!

  16. Andy

    April 6, 2010 - 9:50 am

    I got 36. I think some of the people who got 35 may be missing one of the “of’s” or the second “f” in “forefathers”. Nice exercise!

  17. Arup

    April 6, 2010 - 10:55 am

    By the way, this exercise is often used to demonstrate measurement system variation in Six Sigma training.

  18. Jon Miller

    April 6, 2010 - 12:06 pm

    The question is ambiguous. The “next paragraph” could refer to the one about farm hands or this one:

    “Post your guess, I mean answer, in comments section. Ready? Go!”

    In case the latter, the correct answer is zero.

  19. Rick Foreman

    April 6, 2010 - 12:15 pm

    I’m with Jon on the question being ambiguous. If based on the paragraph in italics, 36. Used standard work tool of “search” and letter “f,” which highlighted each one, one at a time. I did this before and never came close to the right amount, which is 0 or 36 or ?? Great thinking exercise.

  20. David McGan

    April 6, 2010 - 1:36 pm

    0 or 36, depending on the actual next paragraph, or the inferred paragraph.

  21. David Wilson

    April 6, 2010 - 2:21 pm

    second count 36

  22. David Wilson

    April 6, 2010 - 2:25 pm

    We used to do something similar during Kaizen training, and the trick is not to read the words, either count backwards or turn the paragraph upside down.

  23. shaunak

    April 6, 2010 - 10:56 pm

    Or, may be you can copy the whole content into an excel workbook. Suppose you paste it in cell A1.
    Now paste this into any cell:

    This will give you the result as 36 !

  24. Shreekkanth Bhaskaran

    April 6, 2010 - 11:55 pm

    36 times the letter “f” is used….hope i am correct… every time we count we have different answer…looks like continuous improvement

  25. Sune G

    April 7, 2010 - 11:59 am

    I got 30 🙂

  26. Sean Clipperton

    April 8, 2010 - 6:35 am


    I have worked in various industries, in various quality roles, i.e. Quality Engineer to Quality Manager. During that time, we have had to find a way to proof materials that people read. The best and most accurate way we have found is to actually, read the test backwards. Start at the last word and go backwards word by word. The reason for this is the human brain “fills in” words for us. Not sure if you have ever seen the paragraph written with only first and last letter of certain words and the letters in-between mixed up, but people are still able to read that paragraph normally, and understand the context. We read backwards as the brain then does not “fill in” the missing letters since it is not used to reading in this matter. It allowed us to catch mistakes, quickly and easily and not require someone manually typing it into another tool to do the work. I hope this helps if anyone else is doing this type of work, as this is a quick solution. Suggest using a piece of paper to help people move backwards in the paragraph as well instead of letting natural habits take over and “read” normally.



  27. Simon

    April 16, 2010 - 3:01 pm

    I get 36. I copied & pasted the paragraph into MS Word & used the ‘find’ function (searched for ‘f’). Quick & easy.

  28. Sunannda

    December 30, 2010 - 8:54 am

    i got 31….. looking at everyone’s answers i must be close.

  29. Richard

    January 5, 2011 - 4:01 am

    I got 33!

  30. Richard

    January 5, 2011 - 4:03 am

    then 36 when studied slowly!

  31. Anonymous

    May 24, 2012 - 10:30 pm


  32. Anonymous

    May 24, 2012 - 10:43 pm


  33. Iqbal

    May 26, 2012 - 1:07 am

    I got 31 at first time 🙂

  34. Johnny

    June 19, 2012 - 2:54 am

    36. My eyes are now trained to recognize that “of” has an F in it. Just like they are trained to pick up when a word is doubled such as the “a bird in the bush” illusion.

  35. Stu

    February 20, 2013 - 12:11 pm

    I only got 34 Fs on my first try

  36. Rajesh

    August 6, 2020 - 1:25 am

    It’s 48

  37. Wanda

    June 22, 2011 - 11:59 am

    36 times

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