Doing English Crosswords

I thought I’d let you in on one of my inner secrets for this blog post. I’m a bit of a crossword geek. I often spend some time in my day doing crosswords and they are a fantastic way to practice, reinforce and consolidate your English.

In the UK, crosswords appear in most daily newspapers and are something of a British institution. The level of difficulty of the crosswords varies from paper to paper and there are generally two types. A regular or quick crossword will test you knowledge of English words, synonyms and general knowledge. A cryptic crossword tests your knowledge of English as well as your mental reasoning. The  clues are divided into two parts, one half of the clue gives you the definition of the word you are looking for, and the other half gives you information which guides you to that definition or answer.

I’ve been doing quick crosswords for many years but in the last few years I have become a big fan of cryptic crosswords. I get a copy of one when I get to work in the morning and then during the day when I have a spare moment, I try to work out the clues. I rarely complete a cryptic crossword but I get immense satisfaction from working out clues and discussing them with other people. I nearly always learn a new word, or a new way a word that I already know, can be used in English.

There are lots of crosswords for learners on the internet and they’re a great way to pass a bit of time on a bus or tube journey or maybe simply to fill in those dull moments at work. The BBC Learning English website has lots of interactive crosswords on different topics for language learners and you can find many more by typing EFL crosswords into Google. There are some nice ones for intermediate to advanced learners at

If you find you would like to practice your English and like a bit of a challenge in your life, why don’t you find a crossword and spend the day trying to complete it. You never know you may get the crossword bug like me and this will only have positive effects on your vocabulary and ultimately you’re English in general.

I’m going to leave you with a great word I learnt in a cryptic crossword recently; cruciverbalist, which means simply, a crossword enthusiast.

By Ben


a British institution (exp.) - a traditional British thing that is popular

to vary (v.) - to be different or to posses qualities that are not the same

mental reasoning (adj.+n.) - using your common sense and logical judgement

a spare moment (adj.+n.) - a short period in the day when you have nothing to do

to work out the clues (phr. V.) - to find the answer or solution by reasoning or calculating

to get immense satisfaction from (exp.) - to get a large amount of pleasure form

dull moments (adj.+n.) - boring periods in the day

interactive crosswords (adj.+n.) - online crosswords which give you help and the answers

an enthusiast (n.) - a person who shows a strong interest in something

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