Scrabble Rules for Placing and Forming Words on the Board

Last updated: 1 Sept 2023 by Stephen Lunt

Ever wondered if you can play a word backwards or diagonally in Scrabble? In this article, we answer the most common questions Scrabble players ask about playing words correctly. Join us to find out more.

Scrabble words played down and across

In this article

Can I play words anywhere on the Scrabble board?

Unfortunately not. Words in Scrabble must be connected or hooked onto another word on the board. This is set out in the official game rules.

The only exception to this rule is for the first word played, which must instead cross through the centre square. This may limit your options at the start of the game but will score double points for the lucky player who goes first.

My top advice is to aim to play a strong first word, this will set the tone for the remaining game and make play easier. This is essential for novice players who may struggle to expand off a difficult first word during later turns.

Secondly, do not forget it is possible to draw a bingo word during the first turn. It is easier to play a bingo early on in a game as the board is free to play with no blocking tiles. So always check your tiles before rushing to play!

Is it possible to play more than one word per turn?

Yes. Playing more than one word in a single turn is 100% possible in Scrabble. It is also a key strategy for scoring high points during your move.

This strategy is referred to as "hooking", whereby you join letters onto existing words on the board to create new ones. This can lead to turns where players make 3, 4, or even more words in a single play if masterfully done.

Hooking is a skill that will come over time as you play more games and begin to identify these opportunities.

Can I play words diagonally in Scrabble?

No. It is not possible in Scrabble to play words diagonally on the board. Words should only be placed horizontally or vertically.

Additionally, if your move forms a diagonal word by hooking letters, this should not be counted towards your score.

Can I play words backwards in Scrabble?

No, playing words backwards is not a legal move in Scrabble. A backward word is classified here as one which goes from right to left. It also includes words going from bottom to top on the board. In the English language words go from left to right and thus this should be followed in Scrabble.

What are the correct ways to play a Scrabble word?

The two correct ways to play a word in Scrabble are as follows:

  • Horizontally from left to right or,
  • Vertically from top to bottom.

No other combination of letter placements would be considered a valid move.

Are one-letter words playable in Scrabble?

No, single letters are not allowed to be played in Scrabble. Although many standard dictionaries class single letters as words by themselves, the Scrabble dictionaries do not recognize them as valid. Because of this, it is not possible to play them in a game.

Although a single letter by itself cannot be played. It is possible to place just a singular letter tile in a turn. However, this letter tile must extend off of an existing word on the board to make a new word of two characters or more.

For example, if I played the word "cat", my opponent could place the letter "s" to create the word "cats." This would be a completely valid move using just a single letter tile as it creates a valid 4-letter word.

Can Scrabble words be two letters long?

Yes, two-letter words are valid in Scrabble. Two letters are the shortest a Scrabble word can be in length. Some examples include low-scoring words such as "Re" and "Ai" to obscure higher-scoring words such as "Qi" and "Za."

Fun fact: two-letter words are among the most searched-for words online and in Scrabble word finders. Across our site “Qi” remains the most searched-for term by players of the game.

What's the longest a Scrabble word can be?

The longest word which can be played in a traditional Scrabble game is a maximum of 15 characters long. This is not because longer words do not exist, but rather because a Scrabble board is only 15 x 15 squares. Hence, anything longer than 15 letters would run off the board.


We hope after reading through our article you've learnt a lot about how words can be correctly played during your next Scrabble game and what sort of words are valid. Good luck putting these new skills to use and happy playing!

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