Scrabble Strategy: Using Prefixes and Suffixes

Scrabble, the iconic word game loved by language enthusiasts and casual players alike, is all about finding the perfect combination of letters to form high-scoring words. While having an extensive vocabulary is undoubtedly an advantage, there’s more to Scrabble strategy than just knowing words. One powerful strategy that can significantly enhance your gameplay, especially as a beginner, is using prefixes and suffixes. By skillfully adding these word-building elements to your arsenal, you can transform basic words into complex and point-rich creations. In this guide, we’ll explore the art of using prefixes and suffixes in Scrabble, offering tips and techniques to help you excel in the game.

Understanding Prefixes and Suffixes

Before delving into Scrabble strategies, it’s crucial to understand what prefixes and suffixes are. In linguistics, prefixes are letter sequences that are added to the beginning of a word to alter its meaning. Suffixes, on the other hand, are added to the end of a word to modify its sense. By using prefixes and suffixes in Scrabble, you can not only increase your word-building options but also achieve higher scores.

Scrabble Rules for Prefixes and Suffixes

Scrabble has some specific rules regarding prefixes and suffixes. It’s essential to be aware of these rules to use them effectively:

  1. Valid Prefixes and Suffixes: Scrabble allows the use of valid prefixes and suffixes as long as they form valid words themselves. For example, “RE” is a valid prefix, and “ING” is a valid suffix because they can form words like “REACT” and “JUMPING.”
  2. Connected Words: The prefix or suffix you add to an existing word on the board must create a new word. This means you can’t simply add a prefix or suffix to a word without forming a valid word as a result.
  3. Words Formed Horizontally and Vertically: Be mindful that the new word formed by adding a prefix or suffix can be read horizontally and vertically. This is crucial in Scrabble, as it allows you to maximize your scoring potential by creating words in multiple directions.

Scrabble Strategy: Expanding with Prefixes and Suffixes

Now that you understand the rules, let’s explore some Scrabble strategies for using prefixes and suffixes effectively:

1. Look for Opportunities on the Board

The Scrabble board is your canvas, and each turn presents an opportunity to expand existing words with prefixes and suffixes. Before making a move, scan the board for words that can be extended. Pay attention to premium squares, which can boost your score significantly.

2. Make Two Words at Once

One of the key strategies in Scrabble is to create two words with a single play. By adding a prefix or suffix to an existing word, you can create two words simultaneously. This not only multiplies your scoring but also blocks your opponent from using those same spaces.

For example, if “ZOO” is on the board, you can add “RE” to create “ZOO” and “ZOOEY” in a single move.

3. Focus on High-Value Tiles

When using prefixes and suffixes, try to incorporate high-value tiles like ‘Q,’ ‘Z,’ and ‘X.’ These tiles can turn ordinary words into point-rich gems. For instance, “EXO” might become “EXOTIC,” and you can leverage premium squares for massive points.

4. Master Common Prefixes and Suffixes

Certain prefixes and suffixes appear frequently in Scrabble, and mastering them can be a game-changer. Some common examples include:

  • RE-: A popular prefix that can be added to many words, such as “ACT” becoming “REACT” or “BUILD” turning into “REBUILD.”
  • -ING: A versatile suffix that can pluralize words, such as “JUMP” becoming “JUMPING,” or create new words like “SWIM” becoming “SWIMMING.”
  • -ER and -EST: Suffixes used for making comparatives and superlatives. “FAST” can become “FASTER,” and “LATE” can turn into “LATEST.”
  • -LY: A suffix to create adverbs. For example, “QUICK” becomes “QUICKLY” or “SLOW” becomes “SLOWLY.”
  • -S and -ES: Suffixes used to pluralize nouns, like “CAT” becoming “CATS” or “BUS” becoming “BUSES.”

5. Learn Words with Embedded Prefixes and Suffixes

Some words have prefixes or suffixes embedded within them. Learning these words can be a valuable addition to your Scrabble repertoire. For instance, “FRIEND” includes the prefix “FRI” and the suffix “END,” allowing for the creation of new words in multiple directions.

6. Plan Ahead

Scrabble is a game of strategy, and using prefixes and suffixes effectively requires careful planning. Consider your long-term strategy and keep an eye on potential opportunities. For example, if you have “RE” on your rack and spot a potential word on the board, plan your moves to capitalize on it.

7. Use Blank Tiles Wisely

Blank tiles can represent any letter, which gives you incredible flexibility when using prefixes and suffixes. For example, if you have a blank tile, you can transform “FRUIT” into “FRUITY” or “PLANT” into “PLANTS.”

8. Be Mindful of Word Length

Remember that the Scrabble board has a finite number of squares. While creating longer words is generally advantageous, consider the available space on the board. Creating a seven-letter word may not always be possible or the best move, so prioritize creating high-scoring words within the space available.


Scrabble is a game of words, but it’s also a game of strategy. Using prefixes and suffixes effectively can elevate your Scrabble skills and boost your scores. By focusing on opportunities on the board, making two words at once, incorporating high-value tiles, mastering common prefixes and suffixes, and planning your moves strategically, you can become a Scrabble pro. Remember, Scrabble is not just about finding words; it’s about creating them strategically to outscore your opponent. So, the next time you sit down for a game of Scrabble, put these techniques to use and watch your scores soar. Happy word building!

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