The Great Giraffe Challenge Inconsistency

If you’ve seen my Facebook profile, you’ll see that my new display or profile photo is of a giraffe.


Well, this is because I “failed” to answer a riddle, and that requires me to use a photo of a giraffe for three days. Although I do not entirely agree with the official answer, I have to do it because a bet is a bet, and I have made a gamble. But, yes, I do not agree with the official answer, and I will even refuse to call it the correct nor the right answer. Why, you may ask. Then here.

The riddle goes, “3:00 am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors, it’s your parents, and they are there for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread, and cheese. What is the first thing you open?”

I answered door, which is logical as all the other answers may be, depending on the point of view; but the official answer to this riddle in “your eyes,” and I dissent for grammatical reasons.

Although the entire riddle is constructed in the present simple tense of the verb, it has time inconsistency issues. The question asks, “what is the first thing you open?” to which point of the passage, you have already opened your eyes, and the question requires an answer (something) that has not been opened yet—an action that you will do after the question has been asked. You have already woken up; thus, your eyes have been opened, so why the need to open it again? The answer will be legit if the question were phrased “what is the first thing (that) you opened?” or “what is the first thing (that) you’ve opened?”

Someone said that all the other things were a distraction and that it was really the eyes that have been opened first and that you only need the first part of the riddle to get the answer correctly. Again, it would have been true were the question phrased correctly in time perspective.

That is my reason for not agreeing with the official answer of the riddle. The verb tense issue and time perspective. Many have argued that you only need logic and not grammar to answer this, but does not grammar and time perspective require logic as well, a higher form of logic than this riddle? 😛 Well, since this is mainly for fun (I guess), I’ll go with it, although I do not agree with the answer AT ALL.


126 thoughts on “The Great Giraffe Challenge Inconsistency

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  1. If you try to read into the fact you are already awake thus your eyes are already open, then I will rebuttal that if the guest is “unexpected” and then you know it is your parents and why they are there” then you must have opened the door for them.

    The question itself is asking for the first thing that you open for this story and because the first thing you did was wake up, your eyes are the first thing to open.

    1. True, the first thing you opened was your eyes; but then again, I am not saying that the correct answer is the door, if that is what you are trying to suggest as well. If you also try to read carefully what I am trying to convey on my post, you will understand that question requires an answer that is YET TO BE OPENED based the chronological arrangement of events and the tense of the verb used in the narrative and the question of the riddle.

  2. not all riddle are in their correct tense. see the old riddles hihihihih i mean no harm ah just telling my observation

  3. My first answer was the door but changed it immediately to eyes then tried reading it because I realized that the eyes might’ve been open already so I ended up THE LIGHTS. Am I alone with this answer?

          1. The thing with English, as most any other language, is that it is dynamic. Before, the only cookies we know are the ones we can eat, and a mouse is just a type of rodent. How is it not possible in English when, nowadays, changes in language is very common. Words that have been established as nouns are being used as verbs, and many other morphological mutation of the language are happening as well.

            Another thing with English is that it is varied. There is the American English, Australian English, Canadian English, British English. Perhaps, where you live saying “open/close the lights” is not accepted, but other regional variations of English accepts the phrase as a correct one.

            You cannot really say that “Not in English” when only base it on your regional variation of English. English is a vast language, and it grows and changes every day.

  4. I can see where the time perspective is important, however, the time flow is largely inconsistent throughout the riddle as it combines both implied past and present actions. I believe the one that posed the riddle was going for more of an all-inclusive list of actions without regard to time. That being said, I answered eyes and almost got into an argument with my wife over the answer because of the “eyes are implied open” stance. I think all the other information in the riddle is just fluff to make you think that the riddle doesn’t begin until the subject is awake.

  5. Only one action has happened in the present tense: You wake up. All the rest is, as others have said, distraction, as they are describing the conditions at the time of the action. The riddle can be boiled down to: “You wake up…what’s the first thing you open?”

    In addition, assuming that you’ve opened your eyes is just that, an assumption.

    Also, the riddle is tricky because it uses a 2nd person omniscient perspective. The “you” puts the reading in the role of the character. The only way the *character* can know that it’s their parents is if they’ve opened the door, thus tricking the *reader* into adopting a sequential chronology, rather than what is actually stated: concurrant conditions surrounding one action.

    In short, the riddle uses the brain’s natural inclination to assign meaning and sequential chronology, aided by a narrative trick and the readers on assumptions, not because of bad grammar.

  6. I fully agree with your grammar argument. The question “What is the first thing you open?” All depends on when in the story this question is referring too. If it said “What (was) the first thing you open(ed)?” vs “what is the first thing you open now” that you are at the door and see your parents through the peep hole/chained door/ etc. etc etc. For the sake of the riddle I changed my picture… but I don’t agree with the “offical” answer either

  7. Sorry, as of the moment, It’s 3am. The Door fits me well. Not applicable to people with bad sleeping habits. 😀 So yeah, I didn’t post a picture of a giraffe. The sentence/riddle is pretty inconsistent. 😀

  8. Riddle is what it is, a riddle.. Tenses or particulars never matter, but what matter is the particular answer to the question, which, mostly, on riddlers’ viewpoint/idea.. The answer is already there, but the story and question really clouds our judgment. We just don’t get the answer easily for their are a lot of possible answer. But when we knew it, it just hit us right in the face.

    For this particular riddle, the question was “what is the first THING you open?” Our mind processes will never consider any of our body parts as a “THING.” So, we think of “things,” and door is one of things, particular the door of where you slept before the main door of the house..

    If you are that really quick in thinking (which most of us really don’t, which I too belongs) the right answer is not your eyes that open. Our eyes never open, because the truth is, our eyes never open or closes, or it is always open but block by our eyelids. EYELIDS should be the answer and not EYES!

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