View Full Version : Help for Newcomers

08-17-2008, 07:31 PM
Gypsy: First, look at the staistics column. The most frequnt letters are "e" and "t" in most cryptograms. Watch for words like "experience" and "little" and "success." If the cryptogram is a quotation, think about the person being quoted, and ask yourself what that person would be likely to say. A quote from Shakespeare would have different words in it from a quote from a modern politician or sports figure.

Flutefish says look for word patterns to solve ciphers like short words with double letters in the middle - you know if a 4 letter word has double letters in the middle, the middle letters are prob 'o' or 'e; I also look for 'the', 'that, etc - really common words that can help me get started

Gypsy: words ending with s single letter followed by double letters usually end in "ess," but if the cryptogram a quote from a sports figure, they're likely to be "all."

cknapp329: http://www.ehow.com/how_2120302_solve-cryptograms.html?ref=fuel&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=ssp&utm_campaign=yssp_art
this is a pretty good website for beginners

08-17-2008, 09:25 PM
If you can solve the first few words, that might be the key to the rest. For example, I look for the following patterns:

It is
We are
No man
He who
Do not
He has
Those who

Another really good clue is "No one." The first 2 letters ("no") are switched ("on") in the second word.

What I usually look for right away are words like "never" and "there" If "there" doesn't work, it might be "these"

The other thing I look for right away is "it's." Once in a while, but not too often, it can be "he's," "he'd" or "we'd." Look also for "don't," "won't," or "can't." If these don't work, it might be "God's" or "one's." A dead giveaway is "didn't"

Look also for ever and even. If not one of these, it might be eyes, rare or none.

Don't forget that a one-letter word can also be "O." Especially if the author is James Joyce, Keats, Shelley, Frost, or another poet.

08-17-2008, 09:53 PM
I usually can also catch words like "which, truth, people, always (same pattern as except)" relatively quickly because of the letter pattern. "Usually" and "really" are pretty easy to spot as well. Hope that helps at all!:)

08-17-2008, 10:06 PM
I just remembered a few more...:)

In addition to "never" and "there" look for every. Once in a while, it might instead be again or total.

What looks like "never" might be "state."

Also, look for these word combinations that are not always at the beginning of the quote:

a man
does not
they are
it isn't

A long word with the same first and third character could be everything, everybody, everyone. "Opportunities" is a give away. Civilization is also a good one.

These are just some of mine. You'll come up with your own, and it might be a good idea to create a list on paper with groups of words that are similar (like modest, honest, borrow, sorrow, follow, common, "you cannot," etc.) Do enough cryptograms and you won't need it anymore.

08-17-2008, 10:08 PM
Kat, those are great. I love usually and also generally.

08-17-2008, 10:28 PM
Oh, and "nothing" and "perhaps" are ones I catch occasionally. And "remember" and "tomorrow". It's strange how many patterns you start to see...

I wish I was computer literate to put up the red and blue letters, Laura.:o
Someone showed me how a long time ago, but I've forgotten.

08-17-2008, 11:02 PM
Benny the Frank uses words like canst and doth He ruins my speed every month (*.*)

08-17-2008, 11:35 PM

Highlight the letter you want to color and then in the tool bar at the top click the drop-down arrow to the right of the large A with the black bar beneath it. Then choose the color you want from the palette that displays. It will look really terrible in your message...something like the following surrounded by square brackets instead of parentheses..... (COLOR="Blue")abc(/COLOR).

When you preview the post it will show the colored letters. You can also do the same with bold, underline, and italics, or different font and size. The markup tags will show in the message editor but won't display when you preview.

Hope that helps...:)

08-17-2008, 11:58 PM
I guess that makes sense. I just never tried to figure it out on this site! LOL! Thanks Laura! :D

08-18-2008, 12:11 AM

You're very welcome!!


08-18-2008, 05:50 AM
Also keep an eye out for"

experience or excellence

08-18-2008, 04:04 PM
I've gotten much better as time has gone on, and all the patterns you folks have mentioned are pretty familiar to me now, but when I was starting out, I often had success by just trying out "the" for each three letter word in the puzzle. Also, putting any letter in a spot, even a wrong one, can help highlight the patterns.


08-18-2008, 11:10 PM
thanks for the helpful hints!!!:)

08-19-2008, 01:41 AM
Happiness, people, which can also be proper, committee, success, succeed, successfully, coffee.

08-23-2008, 02:18 PM
If you come cross a four letter word that begins and ends with the same letter chances are its that, but it could also be

08-23-2008, 08:33 PM
Of course it's not quite as likely to be:




08-23-2008, 10:55 PM
hath (But if you enter "that" you can usually figure out when it's "hath"):)

08-24-2008, 01:44 AM
high ;) ;) ;)

08-24-2008, 02:24 AM
that hath sons high says dead died else sins edge tent ease seas area text test sits rear sets shes roar asia gang taut onto ohio suns tact agua pomp pump hugh alva grog dyed sans sirs kick kirk greg noun sums trot erie saws aida aqua hush gong hash maim neon prop taft aura barb bomb prep pulp tilt chic sags sows tint tout alga blab blob bulb eave edie eire fief kink ocho oleo olio ouzo pimp plop sots subs suds tart teat tort tuft twit whew

Includes some names, some foreign stuff, & some obscure stuff.

08-24-2008, 07:22 AM
like the way you ended with whew! how perfect is that? lol! great job!

08-24-2008, 10:37 PM
Thank you for the excellence of your experience, maradnu

08-24-2008, 11:15 PM
Other word patterns/relationships I look for:

- The, That, There, Their, Other - 'TH' often appears together in many words, so look for places where these 2 letter appear together.
- Every, Everything, Everybody, Everywhere, Everyone - this is given away by the 2 E's in the first 3 letters.
- Which - look for the 2nd and 5th letter being the same.
- Where
- You, Your
- Four letter words that start & end with the same letter: That, Dead, High, a word that starts and ends with 'S', such as 'SAYS'. Of these, THAT is the most common by far.
- PEOPLE has a pretty unique pattern, so it is pretty easy to spot. There a few other words with the same patter, such as INDIAN or PROPER, but people is by far the most common.
- Remember that a 2 letter word cannot ever begin with the letter 'E', so if you are trying to figure out what the letters with high frequencies might be, this is a way to eliminate an option. Also, 'O' is a very common ending to 2 letter words.
- Look for common word endings, such as -ING, -TION, -MENT, -ESS
- Every word in the english language has a vowel (A,E,I,O,U, Y if it is a 2 letter word). If you get stuck, see if there are any vowels you have not used yet, and see if you can figure out a place to put them.
- 'IT IS' often starts sentences or phrases. Also, THERE ARE.
- if there is a three letter word after a comma, it is usually AND. It is also commonly NOT or BUT. If the word BUT appears in a sentence, NOT will often appear in the same quote before the BUT.

Those are all the tips I can think of at the moment. Hope it helps.

08-28-2008, 06:28 AM

08-28-2008, 10:09 AM
Wow, Maradnu, that's an excellent list. Thanks for sharing! There are quite a few words I've never heard of (kii, nuu, ogg) but it's a great resource.


08-29-2008, 03:34 PM
Momma mia, "abba" is on Marandu's list!

08-29-2008, 06:02 PM
Oh, cieli azzuri, Aida is on maradnu's list, too!


08-29-2008, 09:54 PM
That was lovely!

08-30-2008, 09:25 PM
Laura, I can't take credit for it. It was really Giuseppe Verdi.

08-30-2008, 10:34 PM
I stumbled on that list a while back - not sure I even remember how, but bookmarked it, for obvious reasons.

Some dubious words in there, and a few things omitted, but generally pretty good.

12-27-2008, 06:18 PM
I've seen CONSISTS showing up a bit lately.

12-27-2008, 08:19 PM
You know, I've noticed that also. I kept thinking the 3 S's were E's. This is a new pattern to look for. ;)

12-27-2008, 08:31 PM
I can't add much to the cryptographic advice above but I'd just add that occasionally it can help to look at who the quote is from. If you know who's saying it you might be more likely to think of the right possibilities for what they might be saying.

For example, if it's Anthony Robbins or some other self-help guru then you might spot that "success" or "self-esteem" a little quicker, and if it's Shakespeare, you might realise that that odd word in the second line is "forsooth" or "thou'rt".

12-27-2008, 08:56 PM
Ernests, you are so right. And if it's Helen Rowland, it's usually about marriage. Ambrose Bierce has the wacky definitions. And then there's always Dan Quayle with the ridiculous quotations. (One of my favorites: Space is almost infinite. As a matter of fact, we think it is infinite.)

I really think he's got something there!! :D

12-27-2008, 09:04 PM
When I see a four letter word preceding a hyphen, I often try self- and see how that works.

Not always, but pretty often.

12-27-2008, 09:25 PM
You're right. And usually if it's 3 letters it's non-, like in non-violence. There's a good chance that might be Mahatma Ghandi (sometimes spelled Gandhi) or Martin Luther King, Jr.

12-30-2008, 01:03 AM
When stuck and slogging away, try "TION" as the last four letters of each word of 9 letters or more (assuming there are any).

If the last letter of a long word is the same as the fourth from the last, try E in that spot, as words ending in -ENCE show up frequently in these quotes. As does KNOWLEDGE.

Someone may already have given this one, but a six-letter word with the first and fourth as the only repeats is often ALWAYS (but never OFTEN). ("I said, 'Often' ('Frequently') only once!")

05-27-2009, 03:06 AM
Well, folks looking for 'cheats' won't exactly find those in this thread, but can certainly find helpful hints.


05-27-2009, 04:35 AM
maradnu you are hot #@%#@! !! here i thought i was so cool cuz i thought of a couple of 'that' possiblities that weren't mentioned. that is, of course, until you added your list!

12-05-2009, 09:34 PM
You are right, Angie, alot of helpful tips.

06-27-2010, 10:17 AM

Hey, what a surprise to join this group today and see my own website being plugged! :)

FWIW: I just updated my pattern word dictionary. I rebuilt it from scratch using new source documents. The URL is the same as before, but here's an explanation of what I changed: http://fiziwig.com/crypto/pattern.html

BTW: I thought I was good at cryptograms till I came here! Holy cow! It is taking me at least twice as long as the average to solve these things!

I'm used to the more "cerebral" cryptograms that I ponder over for hours with pencil and paper. With this APP it's really more like playing Wheel of Fortune on TV. I just wish I could buy a vowel sometimes. :)


06-28-2010, 05:53 PM
I spent a month on this board, working hard every day to keep my name on the leader board. Then a couple of months later, they had a crash, and lost all the historical data. So I had to do it again.

I enjoy solving cryptograms, but cracking the hundreds necessary, every day, to get a a ranking starts to feel like work.

So now, and until they lose their data again, I just come by every now and again, and dabble.

06-30-2010, 08:31 PM
I like to take a few seconds to scan the puzzle and try to predict basic sentence elements. As mentioned by others, a common English sentence pattern is "a blankety-blank is," "There is/are" (if it's "are," the subject is automatically plural, which gives you your "s," if the word is regular). "The best/worst thing about blank is blank." I also look for if/then constructions, as well as either/or; neither/nor not only...but...

Punctuation gives you clues, too (except for poetry, where the punctuation is not necessarily regular). As mentioned by others, you would expect to see a conjunction such as "and," "but," "for," "nor," "yet" after a comma (unless it's a list of things, in which case you automatically know you have "and" before the last item listed. Obviously, a period signals the start of a new sentence, but so does a semi-colon (;) and a comma plus conjunction. The punctuation tells you that you have a new subject and verb to find. English sentences are pretty regular about being in this form: subject + verb, and then any modifiers. And, obviously, if you have a sentence that is a question, you need to find how, what, when, where, why, ect. Sometimes if I'm stuck here, I will call the second letter "h" and see how it goes. Some of the hardest puzzles have no punctuation to guide you.

Proverbs almost never use the first person, so if you have a proverbial saying, a one-letter word is going to be "a." Proverbs also regularly use the "imperative" mood, which is used for commands: "don't do...", etc.

Sometimes if I'm stuck, I will call the most frequent letter "e:" sometimes you just have to make a guess, jump in, and see where your guess takes you.