The latest numbers suggest that perhaps as many as 50 million people do crosswords puzzles just in America. Whether this is your first puzzle ever or you’re a Cruciverbalist, if you get stuck, Philip J. Sayles author of Crossword Phrase Dictionary is offering free help in solving crossword puzzles. Below is a series of tips and crossword clue help if you having trouble getting the first or last word in crossword puzzle. Furthermore Mr. Sayles new crossword dictionary is chalked full of crossword solving and crossword puzzle solutions.
- Above all else, be open-minded in interpreting the clue. For example, the clue “shot” could be an adjective, a verb, or a noun. To a large degree, the difficulty of a puzzle is determined by the phrasing of a clue. To prompt the answer “divine”, an easier puzzle might give “heavenly” as a clue, a medium puzzle could prompt “locate water”, while a tough puzzle might supply a clue like “see the future”. A good crossword editor takes puzzles submitted by contributors and changes the clues to adjust the difficulty, and therefore, the entertainment value, or a puzzle
- Larger puzzles have themes, sometimes indicated in the title, pertaining to the longer horizontal and vertical answers. The theme is sometimes sequential pieces of a quote, but also be answers centered on a common focus like presidents, sports, or literature. The answers are often nouns, and occasionally, share an unusual syntactic substitution such as using the number “4” to replace the letters “for” in an answer (“comfortable” becomes “com4table”) of “2” to replace the letters “to”.]
- Tense matters. If the clue is written in the past tense, the answer is in the past tense. If the clue ends in “ing”, the answer must agree. Editors are never sloppy about the agreement between clues and answers.
- Take advantage of plurals. If the clue is plural, so is the answer. You can almost always fill in the last letter of the answer as “s”, the exception being Latin roots such as atrium/atria.
- Use answers containing common letters. There aren’t many “J” words in crossword puzzles (“raja” comes to mind) – I’ve often seen the clue “jai___” but I’ve never seen the clue “___alai”. At the other end of the spectrum, there are lots of “E” words – “ete” (French for “summer”) and “eero” (first name of architect ‘Saarinen’) are obscure but commonly used crossword answers because of the combination of common letters. If a “Q” does happen to surface, it is almost always followed by “U” in both vertical and horizontal answers (“Qatar” is the only exception that readily comes to mind).
- If the clue ends with a question mark, then it is some sort of play on words. These add to the enjoyment of the puzzle by adding humor and difficulty and by forcing the solver to be open-minded and clever.
- Foreign language answers can be prompted in several ways. “Tia” (Spanish for “aunt”) could be tipped off as “Aunt: Sp” or “Juan’s aunt” or “Toledo aunt”.
- If the clue contains an abbreviation, the answer probably does too. For example, “IRS employee” could be “CPA”, and “ABA member” could be “atty” and “NCO” could be “sgt”.