Two-letter words are the opposite. They’re always there, they fit anywhere, and they give your opponent precisely zilch. They’re a serious word gamer’s go-to solution. Here are seven ways two-letter words will boost your Scrabble score:
1. Build Up Foundations
One of the most elegant tricks with two-letter words is to use them to build on. You could sneak in an S or an ED to hook points off an opponent’s word, but there is another way to go. Did they (or you) play IS on the last turn? Make JOISTS. Is AN on the board? Play CLANKS. You get all the points of a big word, with all the playability of a short one.
2. Mind Your Ps and Qs (and Xs and Js)
Ah, the high-scoring letter. So beautiful, so cruel. If word gamers wrote poetry, it would be about the letters Q, X and J. A game-winning score just one tile away… and often as not it stays one tile away, because you can never play the stupid thing. Right?
No! More appropriately, jo! It’s a Scottish term for sweetheart, a great way to use a J. Don’t forget your qi! The bodily energy in traditional Chinese medicine. And za! A two-letter code for South Africa or slang for pizza. Yeah, surprisingly, that one’s legal. They all are.
These little words are also a minimum of 10 points your opponent won’t be able to use. Maximum points? Strung across somebody else’s 10-tile sprawl, with a triple word bonus in the right place? Scottish sweethearts and a slice of baked Italian pie could change your life.
It’s late in the game. It’s close. Maybe you’re trailing! The temptation is to go big, lay down something, anything to get a few points closer to the promised land.
Then you lay down five letters worth of 10 points, and your opponent has a 15 point answer. Or just an S. A freaking S. You’re doomed.
Do you know what words don’t have that problem? The ones your opponent literally can’t play off of. Use your last seven tiles in seven different turns. Put your E on their B, your A on their K. It adds up and, more importantly, it slows them down.
4. Sideways Strategy
If there’s One Weird Trick to winning at Scrabble, it’s to play parallel to your opponent. Don’t cross their word if you can help it. Touch at two, three, or four places above or below, because you pick up two, three or four words worth of points, and they all become harder for your opponent to use.
5. Stealing Bonuses and Testing Friendships
We almost hesitate to include this one. This will not improve your relationship with your gaming companions. But if you see a free bonus? Take it. Period. Do not be seduced by dreams of 100-point masterworks five turns down. Those are five turns your opponent can use to turn your 100 points, not just to 0, but to less than 0, because every point they score is one less for you at the end. Sometimes that means spelling IT across a triple word score for six measly points. Embrace the dark side. Do it.
6. Vowels for Victory
This is the magic of the two-letter word: it’s everywhere. One common consonant or, better yet, a vowel, and you are virtually guaranteed at least a few points, instead of swapping or having to pass. There are 16, count ‘em, 16 two-letter words beginning with A. Got an M? Add any vowel or Y to it and you have a playable 2-letter word. They’re all legal words.
7. Weaponize Weird Words
I studied classics in high school and college and have a working knowledge of Latin and Greek. Know what’s useful about that? Scrabble. Only Scrabble. But it’s very, very useful in Scrabble.
Pi. Xi. Mu. Nu. Each of these words is a perfect way to turn a single high-scoring letter into a game-legal word. And it’s not just Greek. How about the ancient Egyptian word for soul? Ba. A jade disc from historical China? Bi. Maybe a traditional misspelling of the word “the”? Ye. They’re all short ways to give your score a boost.
Score Big With 2-Letter Words
Now you know some ways to use two-letter words to score big take some time to look over WordFinder’s list of every legal two-letter word in Scrabble, and make us proud.
Matt Salter has been a professional writer for over 10 years. He is a gaming and technology expert, and world-class word nerd.