Demystifying Scrabble Game Rules

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Across and down words in Scrabble
By Stephen Lunt 7 MAR 2024

The Scrabble game rules can often leave players with many questions about what is and is not allowed. Join us in this article, where I’ll answer some of the most common questions about Scrabble rules to make them easy to digest.

ADVERTISEMENT

In this article

Can Scrabble Words Be Two-Letters Long?

The short answer is yes, two-letter words are valid in Scrabble. Two letters is the shortest a word can be in Scrabble. Some examples include low-scoring words like “RE” and “AI” to obscure higher-scoring words such as “QI” and “ZA.”

Fun fact: two-letter words are among the most searched-for words online and in Scrabble word finders like our site, with “QI” often topping the charts.

QI on a Scrabble tile rack

Checking and finding two-letter words

All two-letter words you play must still be valid in your chosen dictionary. Tools such as our online dictionary checker can help you look up acceptable two-letter words to play.

Additionally, we’ve pre-prepared a dedicated list containing all two-letter Scrabble words. This is a great resource to use as a quick reference.

Are One-Letter Words Allowed In Scrabble?

Single-letter words are not allowed to be played in Scrabble. Many standard English dictionaries list single letters by themselves, however, the Scrabble dictionaries do not recognise them to be valid. As a result, I recommend you do not try to play them as you can be challenged.

Although a single-letter can not form a valid word, it is possible to place just a single-letter tile in one turn. This is because you can hook a single tile to an existing word on the board to make a new word of two characters or more.

For example, the letter “S” could be hooked onto the end of “CAT” to make “CATS.” This is an acceptable way to play one-letter tile to create a four-letter word.

ADVERTISEMENT

Can I Play More Than One Word Per Turn?

Yes, playing more than one word per turn is 100% possible. It is also a key strategy for scoring high points during your move.

As just discussed above, this strategy is referred to as “hooking.” This is when a player joins letter tiles onto existing words on the board to create new ones. This can lead to turns where players make 3, 4, or even more words in a single play if masterfully done.

Can You Use Names In Scrabble?

This is a tricky question without a yes or no answer. If you are thinking of playing a name you should consult an agreed-upon dictionary if possible.

Typically, Scrabble is focused on common nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that are not capitalised unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence. Therefore, the use of proper nouns, which includes personal names, places, brands, and other capitalised names is not permitted.

However, despite this, some dictionaries do include names. This is often because the word has an alternative definition or meaning, rather than its original association with the name.

Some examples include:

  • Rob - typically short for Robert, but also means to steal.
  • Pam - short for Pamela as a name, but defined as a game similar to Napoleon.
  • Matt - short for Matthew, but also used in the context of a matt paint or finish.

As you can see, the real answer to “Can you use names in Scrabble?” is it depends. Always double-check an agreed-upon word list or dictionary that you are using for the game if there’s ever any doubt about a word’s acceptability.

Can I Place Words Anywhere On The Scrabble Board?

Unfortunately not. Words in Scrabble must be connected or hooked onto another word on the board. This is set out in the official game rules.

The only exception to this rule is for the first word played, which must instead cross through the centre square. This may limit your options at the start of the game but will score double points for the lucky player who goes first.

ADVERTISEMENT

Can Words Be Played Diagonally In Scrabble?

No, it is not possible to play words diagonally on the board in Scrabble. Words should only be placed horizontally or vertically per the game rules.

Additionally, if your move forms a diagonal word by hooking letters, this should not be counted towards your score.

To recap, the only two correct ways to play words are as follows:

  • horizontally from left to right or,
  • vertically from top to bottom.

No other combinations of letter placements would be considered a valid move.

Can Words Be Played Backwards In Scrabble?

Playing words backwards is not a legal move in Scrabble.

A backwards word is classified here as one which goes from right to left or bottom to top on the board. In the English language, words go from left to right and thus, this should be followed in Scrabble.

There may be international variants of the game which don’t follow this rule, so always refer to your ruleset beforehand.

Summary

Now I’ve discussed some of the most asked questions about Scrabble rules, I hope you have a much better understanding of the game. If you are still feeling unsure, read the official Mattel Scrabble rules and Scrabble Pages rules which break down common rules in more depth.

Happy playing everyone!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Lunt is Word Checker's founder and primary content writer. He loves to share his experiences and knowledge of word games through writing and creating handy online tools for players to use.

Did you find this article helpful?