I have been lying awake at night because I can’t turn my brain off. I try to direct it to sleep, but it doesn’t listen. Instead, it thinks of ridiculous things. For example, why is it when we say two names together one way sounds right and the other doesn’t?

Let me explain.

You are going to your friends’ home for dinner. You say to your husband (or wife or whoever), “We are eating dinner with Jeff and Elizabeth tonight.”

Why do I say Jeff first?  If I say it the other way with Elizabeth first, it doesn’t feel right. I know. I know. But it keeps me up at night.

If they are both one syllable names it seems that I like the boy’s name first.

  • John and Beth
  • Jack and Sue
  • Bob and Fran

Try it. Now, try them the other way. It doesn’t sound right with the girl’s name first. It is the same if they are both two or three syllable names too.

  • Henry and Susan
  • Andrew and Martha

Unless they both start with the same letter than it works either way.

  • Andrew and Alice or Alice and Andrew
  • Barry and Brenda or Brenda and Barry

Now, if the names are different syllables, then the name with fewer syllables is said first regardless of gender.

  • Jack and Dorothy
  • Leigh and Jefferson
  • Henry and Jennifer
  • Sue and David


My theory is that our brain recognizes the “and” as another syllable to the first word since they are said together  thereby making the names balance. I could be completely wrong and I haven’t googled it to try to find out why. I don’t know why I like the boy’s name first in same syllable names. I can’t figure that one out. Is it cultural? I have no clue. But last night I fell asleep trying to figure out if I could find two names that broke “the rules” as I see them. I couldn’t.

Oh, the things that keep me up at night. I need to cut out the coffee.