# How many letters in the "The Alphabet" Riddle || Solution Explained

One of many riddles making the rounds on social media asks how many letters are in the alphabet. The question is typically worded in a fairly simple fashion and just asks:

How many letters are in the alphabet?

Solution:

The answer to this riddle 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. 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: The question for this riddle is typically worded “How many letters are in the answer to this riddle?,” “How many letters does the answer to this puzzle contain?”, or “How many letters are there in the answer to this question?”. The logic for finding the answer to this riddle is actually completely different than the logic applied to “the alphabet” riddle.

The answer for this variation is four. An alternative answer is 0.

Why the answer to this riddle is “four”? Well, it’s because the questioner is actually asking for a response where the answer itself describes the number of letters in the answer. it’s not the most intuitive answer and it would be perfectly understandable if you got it wrong.

The answer “four” also has four letters in the word itself. So the answer has the correct number of letters in the answer itself.
An alternative, if you wanted to be trickier, could be 0, since 0 (the number, not the letter O) has zero letters in it.

If you answered by counting the number of letters total in the question or by counting the number of unique letters in the question, it’s understandable. Some even take it one step further and count the number of letters in the question and then count the number of letters in that answer.

But the actually expected answer is “four”.