It’s Time to Start Winning: Tips for Improving Your Anagram Solving Skills

Whether you are a “Words with Friends” fiend, love watching game shows like “Countdown,” or are just interested in provoking your brain a bit, the chances are high that you have stumbled across anagrams. For those who are a bit unsure, an anagram is a word or phrase that is formed by rearranging another word or phrase (like arranging the word KISS into the word SKIS) or a jumble of letters that can be formed into a word (like GHHTORU to THROUGH). You have probably seen these, or similar games, more often that you realize, and they are not terribly difficult; but people struggle to solve them without an anagram solver all the time. So, how do you go about solving those particularly finicky ones and impress your friends and family? 

Anagrams can be tricky, and not everybody out there has a natural ability to solve them. While there are some people who can fly through them without a second thought, others find them very difficult. You could run through all of the possible letter combinations of a word, which would take forever, or you could simply rely on a solving tool if you so wish, but how much fun is that? An alternative idea if you are someone who struggles with these word jumbles, you could follow some simple tips and hints to get through those tricky anagrams. 

  1. Look for clusters of consonants. Rather than trying to immediately solve an anagram or mindlessly stare at it forever, start looking around for consonant clusters. They are usually used to form a central piece of the word and can give you a nice foundation to start solving the anagram. For example, if you have the letters “dske,” you can cluster “sk” from that. Once you do that it becomes obvious that the answer is the word “desk.” When you are not trying to fix a specific anagram, pay attention to the consonant clusters in words while you are reading to help you become more aware of word patterns and more able to spot a cluster quickly in the next attempt. 

  2. Focus on the common beginnings and ends of the words (prefixes and suffixes). Not every word you see will have consonant clusters. If you can’t find one, try looking for common word endings such as “ing,” “ed,” or “er” (and others). You can also look for common word beginnings like “pre,” or “thr” (and others). For example, if you come across jumbled letters like “ghhtoru,” you can make the cluster “thr” and “gh” which are common parts of many words. Once you’ve done that, you can easily see that the jumble can be formed into the word “through.”

  3. Practice makes perfect. Much like anything else, your anagram solving abilities can be strengthened (or weakened) over time. If you want to get better at them, the best thing to do is practice. There are tons of games and apps that allow you to stretch your brain. Next time you have some down time, try focusing your mind on some of those.

Anagrams are tricky suckers, so don’t worry if you struggle at first. Practice and follow these tips, and you’ll be stomping everyone in Scrabble and Words With Friends nonstop.

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