The Three Sillies

the three silliesNot all folktales are designed to teach or explain something. Some, like the English folktale “The Three Sillies”, have been handed down over the years for their entertainment value. In this story, a rich young man finds that the woman he loves and her father and mother are not very clever. He says that he will only marry the poor girl if he can find three other people who are sillier than they are. He soon learns that there certainly are some very silly people in the world.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

Before we start explaining words that some readers may not know, we should point out that you will probably never again see the word sillies used in the English language. The word silly is almost always used as an adjective or adverb. It is sometimes used informally as a noun, as in “No, silly, the party starts at 6.00 pm, not 6.00 am.” However, it would be very unusual to see the word used in the plural form. The title of the story uses the word to make the story sound more interesting to children.

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Pre-Intermediate Level 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

english fairy talesOur source for the story was a children’s book called English Fairy Stories by Australian folktale collector Joseph Jacobs, first published in 1890. The book can be downloaded in various e-book forms from Project Gutenberg here. An audiobook is available from Librivox here.


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(adv: purely) Completely or entirely; only. They met purely by accident. He reads purely for enjoyment. [=he reads only because he enjoys reading] 2000

awful(adj: awful) 1. Very bad or unpleasant; terrible. The music was awful. 2. A large amount. It costs an awful lot of money.
(adv: awfully) 1. In a bad or unpleasant way. 2. Very; to a high degree. 1000

(n: barrel pl barrels) 1. A large, usually wooden container with round sides and flat ends. 2. A tube in a gun through which a bullet goes when it is fired. 3000

barrels gunbarrel

ceiling(n: ceiling pl ceilings) The inside surface at the top of a room. 3000

cellar(n: cellar pl cellars) A part of a building that is below or partly below the ground, often used to store coal or wine. Also called 'the basement'. 4000

chimney(n: chimney pl chimneys) A part of a building through which smoke rises into the outside air. 3000

hammer(n: hammer pl hammers) 1. A tool with a heavy metal head at one end, used for driving nails into wood, breaking things apart etc. 2. The part of a gun that strikes a bullet, causing the gun to shoot. 3000

horrible(adj:ˈhorrible) 1. Causing horror; frightening; dreadful. A horrible sight. 2. Very bad or unpleasant. What a horrible day! 2000

pond(n: pond pl ponds) An area of water that is surrounded by land and is smaller than a lake. The boy sailed his toy boat across the pond. 3000

reflect(n: reflection pl reflections) 1. An image that is seen in a mirror or on a shiny surface. He saw the reflections of the clouds on the lake. 2. Something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else. The high crime rate is a reflection of the violence of our society. 2000

waist(n: waist pl waists) The narrow part of the human body between the stomach and hips. (ก้น) 5000

wipe(v: wipe, wipes, wiped, wiping) To clean or dry something by using a cloth, your hand, etc. (เช็ด) 2000

wise(adj: wise, wiser, wisest) Having gained a lot of knowledge from books or experience or both and able to use it well. (ฉลาด)
(n: wisdom; noncount) 1. The knowledge gained from books or experience. 2. The quality or state of being wise. (ปัญญา; สติปัญญา) 2000

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