Beginner’s Guide to Words With Friends

New to Words With Friends? No problem! You’ve come to the right place. Words With Friends is a lot like Scrabble but way better, because you can play with your friends online, meaning you could even play from the comfort of your toilet seat, how’s that for a selling point, baazing!

But before you can play any game you need to know the rules, so let’s get to it.

Tile Placement

The first word of every game has to have at least one tile placed on the star square. Each new word formed must share at least one tile of a pre-existing word. Words can be formed horizontally (left to right) and vertically (top to bottom).


Each letter has a set value, so for example D is worth two points, O is one point and G is three points. If you were to spell the word DOG you would earn a total of six points. There are also blank tiles, although they carry no point value they can become any letter you wish, making them very useful for completing words that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

There are also premium squares spread across the board — DL=Double Letter, TL=Triple Letter, DW=Double Word and TW=Triple Word.

Premium squares are highly sought after, they have the potential to multiply your score greatly. For example if you were to play the word AX, A is worth one point and X is 8 points, you’d only score a total of 9 points. But if the X was placed on the TL square, that would increase the value of X from 8 to 24 points, bringing you to the new total of 25 points.

If you use all 7 tiles in one turn you earn an extra 35 bonus points, this is called a bingo. Scoring bingos can adversely affect your opponent causing them to yell multiple CW=Cuss Words (not a premium square).

The game ends once a player has used up all their tiles, whatever tiles a player still possesses when the game ends will count against them and be awarded to the opposing player. For example, if your opponent beat you to the punch and played their last tiles before you could play your remaining tiles C, A and T — C being worth four points, A one point and T one point — you would subtract six points from your total score and add six points to your opponent’s score.

The game can also end if three turns have passed with no points scored.

Now that we have the basic rules out of the way, let’s dive into some basic strategies and tactics.


There are many ways to play Words With Friends from a strategy stand point. Some players prefer a more aggressive approach, forming long words on each turn, to get rid of tiles as fast as possible. Keep in mind that 90 tiles are shared between both players, so the more tiles you use, the less there are for the opponent. Although it can be risky at times, branching out with long words gives your opponent ample opportunities to place tiles on premium squares.

The second approach I’d like to talk about is a more conservative style of play. It’s more defensive I’d say. With this approach you’ll form both short and long words, which of the two you’ll form on a given turn depends on a few factors, the biggest one being premium square proximity.

If you can form a long word to reach a premium square then go for it, otherwise, focus on forming short words. Make sure any word you form doesn’t extend so far that it allows your opponent to branch off your word to reach a premium square. Keep forming short words (especially parallel words, more on this later) until your opponent is forced to branch out putting you within striking distance of a premium square.

Obviously not all premium squares are of equal value, so you’ll have to use your best judgement on whether you want to avoid branching out to a certain premium square or if you’re willing to take the risk.


Use Consonants to Minimize Risk – There are ways to minimize risk when forming long words. You’ll want to avoid placing vowels next to premium squares such as DL and TL. Placing vowels next to premium squares creates an easy setup for the opponent, since power tiles such as X naturally come before or after a vowel in many words. So just remember if possible form words with consonants next to the premium squares to minimize risk.

Avoid placing vowels next to premium squares.

Rack Management – Keeping a good balance of vowels and consonants on your rack is important. Having all vowels or consonants can make it difficult to form long words. If you do find yourself with too many of either kind, try using your opponent’s tiles to your advantage. Say for example you have all consonants, just look around the board for any vowels you can place two or more consonants next to. Or you could use the swap option to get rid of some consonants, this option forfeits your turn, use this option sparingly.

Be a Hooker – Hooking is when you add letters to the beginning or end of a word to form a new word. Hooks can be very potent, a well placed hook can really boost your score. Check out the screenshot below for example. I used the S to hook onto the word SINE to form the new word SINES, so far I’m at 6 points, then the new word I formed horizontally SLOGS is worth 36 points, since the L (2 points) was on the TL square and the S landed on the TW square, bringing me to the total of 42 points. In that example the word I hooked onto didn’t give that many extra points, but if you do see your opponent form a word containing lots of power tiles — such as K, J, Q, Z, and X — that would be the ideal time to become a hooker.

Counting Cards errr… Tiles – Now it may seem a bit extreme to keep track of what tiles have been played, but it’s actually very useful, I’ll give an example to illustrate why. If you were trying to reach the premium square TW by first spelling the word DOG vertically and then spelling the word SEA horizontally, where the S connects with DOG to form DOGS. In order for this tactic to work, you need to be sure that the opponent has no blank or S tiles to connect with the word DOG, making it impossible for them to use the TW tile against you. Letter distribution can be found at the end of the guide.

Bingo Stems – As the author of this guide, you may think I score bingos quite frequently, I assure you I do not. That actually makes me unqualified to write this next tip. But if you’re a big believer in the blind leading the blind, please by all means continue reading.

Bingo Stems are a group of six letters that give you the highest probability of forming a seven letter word. Try memorizing these bingo stems to improve your odds of scoring a bingo — TISANE, SATIRE and RETINA.

Parallel Words – I recommend memorizing as many two and three letter words as possible (word list at end of guide), this will allow you to form multiple words in a single turn. In the screenshot below we see the player form three words by placing them parallel to each other — PEE, PE and EL.

Have Fun

At the end of the day playing Words With Friends should be a fun experience, so don’t take the game too seriously. If you’re new, you’ll lose a lot, but don’t let it get to you, just hit the re-match button, form a word, then type in the chat box BRING IT! That’s usually how most of my games go, especially with my arch-rival Jenn K. Lee of *Shakes Fist*. I hope you found this guide to be helpful, thank you for reading, and if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.

Word List

Words With Friends uses the Enhanced North American Benchmark Lexicon (ENABLE) word list, containing over 173,000 words, Newtoy has made a few additions to the word list such as ZEN and QI, more will be added in the future.

To download a text file containing all the words, click here.

Letter Distribution

There are 104 tiles in Words With Friends, below is the distribution of letters.


Letter Point Values

Regardless of what Thomas Jefferson may have said, not all letters are created equal.


3 Letter Words

I want to give a quick shout out to my Caps Lock and Tab keys, if it wasn’t for them this table wouldn’t be possible. And thanks to Newtoy for compiling the list!


2 Letter Words


Board Reference

Get The Latest Updates

So you’ve read my 4th grade writing and managed to reach the end without hitting the Back button on the browser, what now?

I know! You should drop by the Words With Friends Facebook page and become a fan, that way you’ll get all the latest updates about your favorite word game. And you’ll meet thousands of other people that are just as excited as you are about Words With Friends.

Don’t have a Facebook account? That’s ok too, Newtoy has you covered, they also have a Twitter page you can follow to get the latest updates on Words With Friends.

Related Articles


  1. betul says:

    when i place a word the play button is not highlighted y cannot i press the play button when i am done with a word.

    • RockLoobster says:

      Are you sure it’s your turn? The ap will allow you to put tiles on the board when it isn’t your turn, but the play button won’t light up unless it’s your turn to play. That’s my only guess in this one.

  2. Linda P says:

    Why does the game end when it decides too not when the players are acutally done playing? I found that I was losing by 2 waiting for the other ot play and still had works to play and the app closed the game giving my opponent the win when in fact I probably would have beat her if I could have finished playing

    • RockLoobster says:

      If your opponent used all of the tiles left in their hand, and there were no letters left in the pile, the game ends, regardless of whether you still have words you can play. They also get the score of the letters left unplaced in your hand added to their score, and you get that same amount subtracted from your score.

  3. Cecile says:

    I am having trouble getting wwf playing board to come on. This has been going on for days.

  4. Jmaxfun says:

    I play on an iPad2. Does anyone know how to “turn” the game 180 degrees so that the charging port is on the top of the screen? I routinely use the locking switch for just that purpose when reading a book but low on juice. That keeps the charging cord out of the way. Even unlocked I cannot get wwf to “swivel” the other way.

  5. How do I get my friends names back. I have always used facebook on my laptop and now all I have is zyngawf with a list of numbers. This is so frustrating. Please help. Thanks!

  6. Please tell me how to get my friends names back on instead of zyngawf and a whole list of numbers. I have no idea who is playing when it is like this. I have always played this game on facebook with my friends and now it’s just this crazy zynga wf name. Please help. Thanks!

  7. Jan says:

    I’ve been playing WWF for a week and decided to buy the app. I had it linked to my Facebook acct and could view the list of friends. When I installed the paid app all my in progress games showed up that I’d lost the games. I also can’t link with Facebook. It says I’m already signed in. When you go from free app to paid app how do you transfer games etc over?? Thanks

  8. unlliteral says:

    Just for a moment I saw the eyes when I started up WWF today. Anybody else? Do you think the eyes are coming back?

  9. 2202Debs says:

    My “play” button has changed to a “pass” button. Does anyone know how to get it back to “play”?

  10. Joyce says:

    March 2 ’12 I made my best word. Oxide
    The x was on triple letter and the word on
    triple word for a total of 84 points. This game
    mysteriously vanished after I sent it to my
    opponent. Can you look it up? Is there a way
    to delete a game when the opponent sees
    they are losing? I

    • RockLoobster says:

      That happened to me this past week, too. Unfortunately, it seems to be a glitch in the system. It doesn’t happen often. In all the games I’ve played (1000s), maybe three times. Too bad it happened on your best word.

  11. can someone help me delete the people who dont play so i can have new players sorry i am a newbie

    • RockLoobster says:

      You can’t delete games which people aren’t playing. You have to wait for the ap to time them out, which takes 12 days of inactivity. You can have up to 20 games going at once, though.

  12. Keith says:

    No, it’s not about being first. It’s about having the highest score. BUT…if you still have tiles on your rack when someone else has finished, not only is the combined point value of those tiles subtracted from your score, but they’re added to your opponents.

    • tammy says:

      Is this really true? The leftover tiles in your rack are deducted from your score PLUS added to your opponents score. That’s like double jeopardy!

  13. Cindy C says:

    Someone posted a question that I didn’t see answered: How do you get back to the home page after playing a turn? (This has been bugging me too.)

    • RockLoobster says:

      On the iPhone, it’s just a little button on the top left side of the screen not sure about other hardware.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Why did my ‘friends’ who were named in our games suddenly become ‘zyngawf’?( with a long number attached?

    • RockLoobster says:

      I suspect that they went from playing it on an ap to playing it through Facebook. The friends that I’ve played through Facebook always have that kind of zyngawf name.

  15. Laura says:

    How do I get the board to go up or to the right to play a word?

    • RockLoobster says:

      On the iPhone you just swipe your finger across the screen. Don’t know on other hardware. Maybe try the arrow keys?

  16. jonetta bunton says:

    i cant get the game to load period! on facebook . whats up with that

  17. Janis C Myers says:

    Do you have any tips or examples how to use the tokens? I bought 40 of them thinking it had something beneficial to stopping the ads. Since I have them, it would be great to know how to use them. Thanks

    • RockLoobster says:

      The tokens are used to activate the extra features, like the tile counter and the word meter. If you want to eliminate the ads, go from the free version to the paid version.

  18. Norm says:

    I have no idea how many tiles my opponent has left. I’ve been in a position where I had three tiles, all of which could be played for a lot of points (and I was within 10 points of my opponent) only to suddenly see “You Lost” appear. Does the FIRST person to use all of his/her tiles automatically win regardless of the score difference? In Scrabble I can see how many tiles my opponent has left…do if have to manually COUNT these in WWF? Seems like it would be a small feature to add.

    • RockLoobster says:

      The end game works just like scrabble. High score wins. The person who goes out first gets the points of the opponent’s unplayed tiles added to his score, and the opponent gets those points subtracted. They basically count double. You can count tiles, or pay for the tile counter, which will also tell you what specific tiles are still in play.

      • tammy says:

        Thanks for clarifying that your leftover tiles are a double jeopardy for you. iDid not know this. iDo think it would be a nice feature to get to routinely see what tiles are left at the end of the game. The tile counter is considered cheating and so iDon’t use it. When it is used, it can change the game significantly and isn’t at all fair to your opponents. For that reason, iDon’t feel it should even be included in the game and nor should the strength meter.

        • brian Warner says:

          I haven’t used the tile counter yet, but if it works like I think it does, why would it be considered cheating? You could manually count out the remaining tiles (that is, the tiles left in the draw pile and in your opponent’s hand) by counting the tiles already played and those currently in your rack. The tile counter DOES NOT provide any information that is not already available to you. Likewise, I don’t know the intricacies of the power meter, but I assume that its main metric is points? Again, information already available (though if there’s more involved than just raw score, eg. a relative power meter that references all currently playable words, then I’m quite a bit more iffy).

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Is using the two letter and three letter word list compiled by Newtoy considered cheating? As an 82 year old grandmother, I bet the young ones are using every available tool.  They are way ahead of me.

    • Miick says:

      Just memorize them. Then you don’t have to wonder. Ok, maybe just the two-letter list?

    • jackie1659 says:

      I am with you Elizabeth!!!!!! The grandchildren have the edge on us that is for sure but I can still beat them fair and square:-))

    • RockLoobster says:

      Since there is no mention of using word lists in the rules, this is going to be a matter of opinion, nothing more. Since the game allows you to try various letter combinations without penalty, I personally don’t feel using a word list to find your word is cheating. It would be different if you lost a turn for having a non-word, or if there was some kind of challenge option, but since you can just try an unlimited number of combinations without penalty, I see no advantage to using a word list, and therefore don’t see it as cheating. I do feel that using a program to find words for you, using the letters in your hand, is cheating, however. That is my opinion on the subject.

  20. [...] I found to improve my game, but if you’re interested in learning more, I recommend visiting the OS X Reality web site. But in the end, if I still can’t beat my brother-in-law, at least I can say I am [...]

  21. Gary Garnier says:

    Usually I cringe when I hear someone say “It is what it is”, but that’s my take on WwF. It’s not Scrabble. It’s not played face-to-face, and it incorporates a word list as the arbiter of disputes as to the acceptability of words. As such it offers a learning component not possible in Scrabble. Often I have tried words that just seem to have a “feel of legitimacy” about them, and find that I have learned a new word. (Of course there are times when I am completely wrong, too!).
    Win or lose, I do feel better if I have played a “pure” game, relying solely on my own vocabulary as it existed before that game began, but I still enjoy the game if I have “experimented” to come up with a play.
    When I find an opponent repeatedly coming up with strings of letters that I have never seen before, and that I would never have considered trying, I recognize that my opponent is probably using a cheat program and move on. “Moving on” can mean that I won’t play them again, or, because I sometimes can beat this type of player anyway, I will continue to play them for even more satisfaction. It’s an immutable aspect of the game that we each play on our own terms, and we can choose to accept that we won’t discern an opponents personal terms until we have played a game or six with them.
    Having said all of this, I’d love to see an arena like World Series Poker that would allow top players to compete in controlled circumstances that would rule out cheat programs, and words could be challenged across the table, and a penalty (mandatory Pass on next turn if the challenged player can’t define the word just played. In the meantime, for the rest of us, it is what it is.

    • jackie1659 says:

      Many people who play wwf may also compete in scrabble tournaments. They know all kinds of strange words. If you go to a site called, you will come across all kinds of strange words.

      • it kinda seems like your really not giving this game a chance, ive been a long time fan of scrabble for 50 yrs. and i see a broad spectrum of players in this game (cheaters and all) as in all walks of life:( but life goes on and so do games :) its a little more endearing then scrabble but more inviting to young ones dont you think?

  22. KRM says:

    why can’t I get back to main menu after I’ve played or ended a game?

  23. Why has nobody addressed the issue of cheating doesnt seem to be in offical WORDS rulebook or here why not? Some people are resorting to using helper programs that suggest words and even a helper app that plays the game for you and suggests your next move. Personally I feel it is cheating . I do not use any helper apps or a scrabble dictionary but I know there are people who do especially when you see people making words that not normally in their vocabulary but actually not in anyones vocab except perhaps Albert Einstein. Anyway it needs to be addressed in the rules.

    • mcoles11 says:

      I’m so with you on that. I get so annoyed if I think an opponent is cheating , quite easy to tell , I only use a standard dictionary , for spelling purposes. I do a lot of wwf and scrabble , plus crosswords and wonder if people think I cheat when I win. I most certainly do not …
      No satisfaction in that .

      • Miick says:

        What do you mean, “…use a standard dictionary.”? Isn’t using any dictionary cheating? Maybe I missed something.

        It always seems a little, well, condescending to think something like “I don’t recognize that word so he must be cheating.” Especially in WWF with the try-til-it-works feature.

    • RockLoobster says:

      I think the reason you don’t see it in the rules is because making a rule against cheating is redundant. Cheaters will cheat whether it’s in the rules, or not. Such is the nature of cheating.
      It has been discussed in this thread, ad nauseum.
      Sometimes, by the way, you’ll see unusual words because the fact that the game doesn’t penalize you for trying non words gives people more opportunity to experiment with the tiles in their hand, even if they’re not using a cheater ap.

      • I realize in Words you can try words till you find one that works which of course makes it much easier than scrabble to play. However if someone is using a program such as Lexican I can tell within one or two moves that they are using it simply because it comes up with words that nobody would even think of trying. Took me while to figure out what the heck was going on with one person I played till I did some googling. Actually have only come across one opponent so far that I was sure was using that program . I still think the rules shoud cover the use of outside help pretty sure the board game of scrable covers that issue because if you dont mention it then there are those who think it is ok to cheat since in todays colleges about 75 percent of more kids think cheating is okay. I dont and never will..

    • Nancy says:

      I agree with you. It is absolutely cheating and I would like to know what the point would be for anyone to do this. Where is the fun in that? Even if there are rules, cheaters will not follow them.

    • RollerGhost says:

      Because WWF allows multiple guesses without penalty, I have used this feature to my advantage. Applying what I know about prefix, suffix, & word structures, I have come up with some crazy-looking letter combinations & learned new words in the process! I do not consider this cheating, because the game program allows it. Just because one player may not have heard of a word does not mean the other player is using a cheat program. :)

  24. LINDA says:

    I am not able to logon most of the time. I often get your message that you are working on the problem.

  25. Beth says:

    Why doesn’t WWF accept the word American?

  26. Carol says:

    How can u start multiple games once one has started?

    • RockLoobster says:

      Go to the bottom of the main page, and you will find the “create game” icon. When you hit that, you will have several options, including “random opponent” which starts a game between you and some random person who has also selected that option, “user name” where you invite a known player by using their screen name, and “pass and play” where you can play with someone by passing your device back and forth. You can also invite people from your contact list to get the ap, or play if they already have it, and find out who is playing on Facebook. As I understand it, you can have up to 20 games going at once. Good luck!

  27. Debbie says:

    is their a way to challange someone if you feel they are putting down something that is not a real word?

    • RockLoobster says:

      The words are automatically checked against a word list, the ENABLE word list, for validity, so there is no challenge feature. The only way the person could be using non words is if they are using a cheat application that bypasses that list, like MESSING WITH FRIENDS. The ENABLE list is online and linked through the information section of the game, if you’d like to check the words they’re playing to make sure they’re valid. You will see a lot of words here you may not have seen before, and may not find in a standard dictionary, so I would advise not jumping to conclusions before you’ve checked the list.

    • Linda says:

      How do I delete finished games or cancel ones I don’t want to continue

      • RockLoobster says:

        You delete old games from the main area. Under the “game over” tab, find the game you want to delete, then swipe your finger from right to left on the screen over that game. A delete button will appear.
        As for canceling games, you can do that by either resigning, which you can only do when it is your turn to play, or by allowing the board to time out, which will assign the loss to the person whose turn it was when it timed out, regardless of the score. It takes 12 days for a time out resignation to be assigned in a random opponent game.

  28. Debbie says:

    someone I’m playing is putting down letters that are not words. Is their a way to challange them like scrabble?

    • Nancy says:

      If the game allows it to go through, it is considered a word. I find that many of the words that are accepted are totally obscure and ridiculous. The people I play with who do this take all of the fun, learning, and creativity out of the game. They make it only about winning. I would stop playing with those who do this…although most of the people I play with do it.

      • Miick says:

        You like “…fun, learning, and creativity…” but you want everyone to use only words YOU already know? Seems a little contradictory to me.

        Please post a little list of these obscure and ridiculous word.

        What do you think of SUQ, FOEHN, TEUGH, YONI, AALII?

    • Alex says:

      You should downloads the ENABLE word list. It’s the list of words that are acceptable in WWF. Someone played the word OE against me. At first I thought it was allowing phonetic pronunciations but I it’s actually a word too. It’s on the ENABLE list and I got the definition from

  29. Eloise says:

    Just wondering…I’m new to the game…if you play off someone else’s word, where they have earned a DW or TW value, do you also get a DW and TW value? For instance, if my opponent plays the word, “bag” and the “b” is on a TW score, if I add an “s” to bag to make it “bags”, do I also get a triple score?

  30. Cindy says:

    How does buying tokens work?

Leave a Comment