Crossword Puzzles – #3 Down, Pastime Phrase

Crossword Puzzles happen to be one of the great all-time pastimes. So popular in fact that every grocery checkout line you will ever stand in will have a book of crosswords on the rack next to you! Many people find that working a crossword everyday gets their brains engaged and ready for the day at work. Others find it relaxing and a way to escape momentarily the rush and frustration of life in general.

Virtually every newspaper still published today has within it a crossword puzzle. These have a huge following and truth be known may be the reason many people still subscribe to a daily publication. TV and Internet news are rapidly replacing newspapers, but they can’t give you that hold in your hand crossword puzzle.

Puzzle Science

You may think that crossword puzzle clues are written in a secret language. Well, sort of! But it's a language that is easy to learn once you spot the patterns that are usually there. Here are some tips of things to watch for:

Plural and singular nouns - Words that are plural in the clues will be plural in the answers as well. For example, if the clue is "Thanksgiving dessert," the answer might be PIE. But if the clue is "Thanksgiving desserts," in the plural, then the answer would be Pies. This is useful if you see a plural clue allowing you to often put an "S" into the grid at the end of the word, even if you don't know any other part of the answer.

Fill-in-the-blank clues - These are often the easy clues to get, and may be a good place to start. Clues may be familiar expressions like ("How are ___?" Answer: you), or titles of movies, songs, or books ("God Bless ___" Answer: America), or quotes ("It's the economy, ___" Answer: stupid). And, remember you don't have to start with the first clue, skip down through and find the easy ones. Every square with a letter in it helps with the other clues.

Abbreviations - Most puzzles will let you know that an answer is an abbreviation by placing an abbreviation in the clue. For example NRA (National Rifle Association) is often used in crosswords.

Verb tenses - Just as singular and plural nouns match, verb tenses will also match. If a clue is in the present tense, for example, then the answer must also be in the present tense. If the clue is "Love," the answer might be ADORE. But "Loved" would require ADORED as an answer, and "Loving" would require ADORING. Makes common sense, doesn’t it.

Names - Oftentimes the first name is given in a clue, and the answer is the last name, or it can be the other way around. There can also be singular and plural names. For example "Barack or Michelle" would be Obama, but "Barack and Michelle" would be Obamas.

The more often you work on puzzles, the more that these word patterns, and others, will become familiar to you. The key is to keep working on them and, trust me, they will get easier.

Finishing Up

As you're reading this and as you're working a puzzle, the most important thing to keep in mind is that crosswords are for fun and relaxation, and you shouldn’t take them too seriously. I like to think of it as "playing a puzzle" because that's the attitude you should have when working one.

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