How to Score Big with Simple 2-Letter Words in Scrabble
No matter what word game you're playing, whether it's Scrabble or one of its near-homogeneous counterparts like Lexulous, Wordfeud or Words with Friends, one of the easiest ways to stay on top of your opponent is knowing all of the legal two-letter words you can play. You're not going to win by only playing two-letter words, but there are definitely occasions when the game could slip from your hands by not playing them.
When you're stuck with a rack full of vowels, knowing AA, AE, AI, OE and OI could save the day. By putting one of those words down, you're getting rid of 2 of your 7 vowel tiles, essentially giving you a chance at some consonants during your next draw. Sure, you could just exchange all of your letters for new ones, but what if you get 7 more vowels? You just wasted a turn for nothing—and one of your exchanges. Playing one of those 5 words ensures you can draw a few tiles, while still giving you points on the board.
If including Y as a vowel, you should also memorize AY, OY, YA, YE and YO.
And this concept goes both ways. If you have a rack full of consonants, you should memorize HM, MM and SH, along with BY and MY. These, unlike their two-letter vowel counterparts, can not only be used to get rid of letters, but to score big when using the word multipliers, and even bigger when playing parallels.
Say for instance you have MUGWORT on the board.
Your rack looks something like this: A X U U U A I.
Throwing down AX parallel on the MU of MUGWORT gives you 3 words in one move (AX, AM, XU), plus the X is on a double letter score, which means you get those 8 points doubled to 16, then that's doubled to 32, which makes the whole play 38 points total. Quite a lot for just two letters. Imagine if it was on a triple letter score!
But you can't be proficient at parallel play without knowing the rest of the two-letter words. If you can memorize them all, you'll have the most basic (and most important) part of Scrabble down. Then it's time to memorize the three-letter words! Or at least, the more important three-letter ones, but that's for another time...
Below are lists of two-letter words allowed in Scrabble and Words with Friends, since I assume a lot of you are playing on Zynga's mobile version (it does have a better interface than EA's mobile Scrabble version).
Before we get to the actual list of two-letter words, you'll need to know what dictionary you'll be playing with. If you're playing Scrabble in North America, there are only 101 two-letter words that are acceptable, but anywhere else in the world, there's 124 two-letter words.
- North America
No matter if you're playing competitively in a tournament or at home with your grandmother, the list of two-letter words in Canada and the U.S. remains at 101 words. The dictionary used in North America is The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition (OSPD4) by Merriam-Webster, which provides all legal 2- to 8-letter words and their inflections with definitions.
For competitive play, Scrabblers use the Official Tournament and Club Word List, Second Edition (OWL2), which omits definitions and part-of-speech labels, and includes all inflected forms spelled out in full. It adds 9-letter words and some 10-letter words, along with all of the offensive words deemed unsuitable for the family-safe OSPD4. Also, OWL2 is more commonly referred to as TWL (Tournament Word List).
- International (excluding North America)
If you're playing Scrabble in the UK, Australia, India, South Africa, and so on, then your Scrabble dictionary would be the Collins Scrabble Dictionary, Third Edition. It contains all legal words in international gameplay from 2- to 9-letters long, along with definitions. There are 124 two-letter words you can use.
For competitive play, Scrabblers use the Collins Official Scrabble Words, Third Edition (CSW3), which like the OWL2, omits definitions and includes inflected forms spelled out in full. It lists all legal words from 2- to 15-letters long, making it a complete reference for play outside of North America. The third edition is more commonly referred to as CSW2012 or CSW12.
Previously, SOWPODS was the source for all legal words in international Scrabble tournaments, which is an anagram of the two acronyms OSPD and OSW (Official Scrabble Words by Chambers). There was never an actual hard copy published of the combined word list, but now the CSW acts as a bona fide full replacement, though most still refer to it as SOWPODS.
Below are all of the 101 acceptable 2-letter words from the OSPD4 and OWL2, along with all of their inflected forms.
- AA n pl. -S rough, cindery lava
- AB n pl. -S an abdominal muscle
- AE adj one
- AG n pl. -S agriculture
- AH v -ED, -ING, -S aah (to exclaim in amazement, joy, or surprise)
- AI n pl. -S a three-toed sloth
- AL n pl. -S an East Indian tree
- AM present 1st person sing. of be
- AN indefinite article — used before words beginning with a vowel sound
- AR n pl. -S the letter R
- AS adv to the same degree
- AT prep in the position of
- AW interj — used to express protest, disgust, or disbelief
- AX v -ED, -ING, -S to work on with an ax (a type of cutting tool)
- AY n pl. AYS aye (an affirmative vote)
- BA n pl. -S the eternal soul, in Egyptian mythology
- BE v present sing. 1st person AM, 2d ARE or ART, 3d IS, past sing. 1st and 3d persons
WAS, 2d WERE or WAST or WERT, past participle BEEN, present participle BEING to
- BI n pl. -S a bisexual
- BO n pl. BOS a pal
- BY n pl. BYS a pass in certain card games
- DE prep of; from — used in names
- DO n pl. DOS the first tone of the diatonic musical scale
v DID or DIDST, DONE, DOING, present sing. 2d person DO or DOEST or DOST, 3d
person DOES or DOETH or DOTH to begin and carry through to completion
- ED n pl. -S education
- EF n pl. -S the letter F
- EH interj — used to express doubt or surprise
- EL n pl. -S an elevated railroad or train
- EM n pl. -S the letter M
- EN n pl. -S the letter N
- ER interj — used to express hesitation
- ES n pl. ESES ess (the letter S)
- ET a past tense of eat
- EX v -ED, -ING, -ES to cross out
- FA n pl. -S the fourth tone of the diatonic musical scale
- FE n pl. -S a Hebrew letter
- GO v WENT, GONE, GOING, or GWINE, GOES to move along
n pl. GOS a Japanese board game
- HA n pl. -S a sound of surprise
- HE n pl. -S a male person
- HI interj — used as a greeting
- HM interj — hmm (used to express thoughtful consideration)
- HO interj — used to express surprise
- ID n pl. -S a a part of the psyche
- IF n pl. -S a possibility
- IN v INNED, INNING, INS to harvest
- IS present 3d person sing. of be
- IT pron the 3d person sing. neuter pronoun
- JO n pl. JOES a sweetheart
- KA n pl. -S the spiritual self of a human being in Egyptian religion
- KI n pl. KIS the vital force in Chinese thought
- LA n pl. -S the sixth tone of the diatonic musical scale
- LI n pl. -S a Chinese unit of distance
- LO interj — used to attract attention or to express surprise
- MA n pl. -S mother
- ME pron the objective case of the pronoun I
- MI n pl. -S the third tone of the diatonic musical scale
- MM interj — used to express assent or satisfaction
- MO n pl. MOS a moment
- MU n pl. -S a Greek letter
- MY pron the possessive form of the pronoun I
- NA adv no; not
- NE adj born with the name of
- NO n pl. NOS or NOES a negative reply
- NU n pl. -S a Greek letter
- OD n pl. -S a hypothetical force of natural power
- OE n pl. -S a whirlwind off the Faeroe islands
- OF prep coming from
- OH v -ED, -ING, -ES to exclaim in surprise, pain, or desire
- OI interj — oy (used to express dismay or pain)
- OM n pl. -S a mantra used in contemplation of ultimate reality
- ON n pl. -S the side of the wicket where a batsman stands in cricket
- OP n pl. -S a style of abstract art
- OR n pl. -S the heraldic color gold
- OS n pl. ORA an orifice
n pl. OSAR an esker
n pl. OSSA a bone
- OW interj — used to express sudden pain
- OX n pl. -ES a clumsy person
n pl. OXEN a hoofed mammal
- OY interj — used to express dismay or pain
- PA n pl. -S a father
- PE n pl. -S a Hebrew letter
- PI n pl. -S a Greek letter
v PIED, PIEING or PIING, PIES to jumble or disorder
- QI n pl. -S the vital force that in Chinese thought is inherent in all things
- RE n pl. -S the second tone of the diatonic musical scale
- SH interj — used to urge silence
- SI n pl. -S ti
- SO n pl. SOS sol (the fifth tone of the diatonic musical scale)
- TA n pl. -S an expression of gratitude
- TI n pl. -S the seventh tone of the diatonic musical scale
- TO prep in the direction of
- UH interj — used to express hesitation
- UM interj — used to indicate hesitation
- UN pron pl. -S one
- UP v UPPED, UPPING, UPS to raise
- US pron the objective case of the pronoun we
- UT n pl. -S the musical tone C in the French solmization system now replaced by do
- WE pron 1st person pl. pronoun in the nominative case
- WO n pl. WOS woe (tremendous grief)
- XI n pl. -S a Greek letter
- XU n pl. -S a monetary unit of Vietnam
- YA pron you
- YE pron you
- YO interj — used to call attention or to express affirmation
- ZA n pl. -S a pizza
All of the definitions above come from The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition (OSPD4) by Merriam-Webster.
Internationally, there are 124 acceptable 2-letter words from the CSW. All of the 101 words above are legal plays, as well as the remaining 23 listed below.
- CH v variant of ich (archaic form of eke)
- DA n pl. -S a Burmese knife
- DI n deus (god)
- EA n pl. EAS a river
- EE n Scots word for eye
- FY interj — variant of fie (exclamation of disapproval)
- GI n pl. GIS loose fitting white suit worn in judo, karate, and other martial arts
- GU n pl. GUS gju (a type of violin used in Shetland)
- IO n pl. IOS a type of moth
- JA interj — yes; sentence substitute for yes
- KO n pl. KOS a traditional digging tool in New Zealand
- KY pl. n Scots word for cows
- NY prep nigh (near)
adv nigh (nearly)
adj nigh (near)
v NYED, NYING, NYS nigh (approach)
- OB n pl. -S an expression of opposition
- OO n pl. OOS Scots words for wool
- OU n pl. OUS a man, bloke, or chap
- PO n pl. POS a chamber pot
- ST interj — exclamation to attract attention
- TE n pl. TES the seventh degree of any major scale in tonic sol-fa
- UG v UGGED, UGGING, UGS hate
- UR interj — hesitant utterance used to fill gaps in talking
- YU n pl. YUS jade
- ZO n pl. ZOS Tibetan breed of cattle developed by crossing the yak with common cattle
All of the definitions above come from Collins Scrabble Words, Third Edition (CSW3) by Harper Collins Publishers.
There were some changes to the 101 two-letter words that are shared worldwide. The OSPD4 and OWL2 remain the same, but there are some differences in the new CSW 2012. All of changes are listed below.
- AN now a noun (in phrase ifs and ans) so you can now add an -S for ANS
- AT now also a noun (a monetary unit of Laos, 1/10 of a kip) so you can now add an -S for ATS
- GO new archaic inflections were added (GOEST and GOETH)
- OI now also a noun (a New Zealand bird) so you can now add an -S for OIS
- UM now also a phrasal verb (as in to um and uh) so you can now use UMS, UMMING, UMMED
- YO the old CSW had a plural inflection (YOS) which was removed
The mobile Words with Friends game for iPhone and Android devices does not use the OSPD4, OWL2, or CSW, but instead used the ENABLE word list, which stands for Enhanced North American Benchmark LExicon. However, they are extremely flexible with adding new words. Zynga even have a place for you to recommend words.
The ENABLE list reads just like the OSPD4 or OWL2 ones, but since Zynga has added additional words to Words with Friends, it looks more in-between those and the CSW. Below is just an abbreviated list of the 2-letter words accepted at this time. If I missed any, let me know.
AA, AB, AD, AE, AG, AH, AI, AL, AM, AN, AR, AS, AT, AW, AX, AY, BA, BE, BI, BO, BY, DA, DE, DO, DI, ED, EF, EH, EL, EM, EN, ER, ES, ET, EX, FA, FE, FI, GO, HA, HE, HI, HM, HO, ID, IF, IN, IS, IT, JO, KA, KI, LA, LI, LO, MA, ME, MI, MM, MO, MU, MY, NA, NE, NO, NU, OD, OE, OF, OH, OI, OM, ON, OP, OR, OS, OW, OX, OY, PA, PE, PI, QI, RE, SH, SI, SO, TA, TI, TO, UH, UM, UN, UP, US, UT, WE, WO, XI, XU, YA, YE, YO, ZA