Crossword puzzles have long been one of the most popular word and parlor games in America. And they show no sign of going away, despite the recent attack from the land of Soduku. Of course, crossword puzzles can also be a source of frustration that can even lead to acts of mild violence. Probably a few heart attacks and strokes have even been caused by the inability to solve a crossword puzzle. While there are a plethora of books available to help you out when you face a particularly difficult clue, most of the time these drastic steps aren’t really necessary. There are a few simple tricks of the crossword puzzle trade that can always be of help.
First off, remember that the English language is made up of consonants and vowels. And the great thing is that we only have five vowels to work with. Since you’ll rarely come across a word that doesn’t have at least one vowel, it behooves you to locate where that vowel or vowels should be found and which one goes where. Forget what you learned about vowels in school and take a lesson from Wheel of Fortune. The occurrence of vowels in the English word is not equal; some occur with far more frequency than others. The order of frequency of vowels goes like this: E-A-I-O-U. In other words, try for an E much more often than you would a U. And before testing out an O, go for the A. Another reliable indicator is when you find the letter G in the last square of the crossword line. Very often the preceding two squares will be filled quite nicely by the letters IN. Likewise, check the clue for any hint that the answer may be require a plural entry. If this is so, then chances are the final box will require either a S or an IES. If the crossword puzzle is more sophisticated, however, you may also want to try adding a AE if there is an indication for a plural form of the clue.
It pays off to pay attention to the level of sophistication of the puzzle. The harder the puzzle, the more likely it is that the answers will be more clever than the average crossword puzzle. Knowing the level of sophistication of the puzzle will aid you in determining answers to the clues. You will be required to expand upon the meaning and definition of a word beyond the obvious. Don’t automatically assume the obvious; take the time to think of alternate meanings for commonplace words. Take the word “cell” for example. There are any number meanings associated with this word, including an enclosure, a group of people, and a statistical unit. In addition, it can also relate to biology or the telephone grid. There are many words like this that are commonly used in crossword puzzles precisely because they can be creatively integrated.
And speaking of integration, it is important to remember that the thing that separates crossword puzzles from other word games is that they must contain certain words chosen only because they fit the formula requirements. For this reason, crossword puzzles very often contain certain obscure or rarely used words with unusual letter combinations. These words pop up with such frequency that you can actually find lists of these. While using a crossword dictionary may smack of cheating, these list of commonly used obscure words can be of tremendous benefit. And it isn’t really cheating since most of these words are ones you’ve never heard before.