Riddles in English: 200+ Wonderful Word Puzzles for English Learners
What is something that belongs to you but that everyone else uses?
The answer: Your name!
This sort of tricky question is what we’d call a “riddle.” It’s a question or puzzle that often has a funny, clever or unexpected answer.
A riddle makes you think about the many different meanings of a word. It forces you to be creative with language.
If you’re looking to learn English fluently, then learning it with the help of riddles in English is sure to be a fun and efficient addition to your educational program.
- English Riddles for Beginners
- English Riddles for Intermediate Learners
- English Riddles for Advanced Learners
- And One More Thing...
English Riddles for Beginners
- What can you catch, but not throw?
- What has a face and two hands but no arms or legs?
- What has keys but can’t open locks?
- What has a thumb and four fingers but is not alive?
- I am taken from a mine and shut in a wooden case. When I am needed, I am taken out and used. What am I?
- What has cities but no houses, forests but no trees, and rivers but no water?
- The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?
- What goes up but never comes down?
- I have branches, but no fruit, trunk, or leaves. What am I?
- I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with wind. What am I?
- I am full of holes but still hold water. What am I?
- What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and gray when you throw it away?
- I can fly without wings. I can cry without eyes. Wherever I go, darkness follows me. What am I?
- I have keys, but no locks. I have space, but no room. You can enter, but can’t go outside. What am I?
- What has a heart that doesn’t beat?
- The more it dries, the wetter it gets. What is it?
- I am an odd number. Take away one letter and I become even. What number am I
- I am always in front of you, but you will never see me. What am I?
- What has a neck but no head?
- What has four legs but can’t walk?
1. A cold 2. A clock 3. A piano 4. A glove 5. Pencil lead/graphite 6. A map 7. Footsteps 8. Age 9. A bank 10. An echo 11. A sponge 12. Charcoal 13. A cloud 14. A keyboard 15. A deck of cards 16. A towel 17. Seven 18. The future 19. A bottle 20. A table
Resources for Learning Beginner Riddles
If you’re not familiar with riddles, or if you’re still struggling with the basics of the English language, these three websites should kick-start your learning process.
Firstcry Parenting: “50 Best Riddles for Kids”
Because these riddles from Firstcry Parenting are for children, they’re pretty simple. Many of them rely on a knowledge of the English alphabet, or on simple logical thinking skills.
For example: “What begins with the letter ‘t’, is full of ‘t’ and finishes with ‘t’?”
The answer, of course, is a teapot.
This riddle teaches you about how certain letters and words sound similar, but refer to different things. For example, the English letter “T” is pronounced the same as the beverage “tea.” In English, we call these homonyms. You’ll find them in a ton of riddles!
English Riddles for Intermediate Learners
Once you’ve understood how riddles work, it’s time to make things more difficult. The trickier a riddle is, the more you get to learn.
- I am taken from a mine and shut in a wooden case. When I am opened, I can no longer be used. What am I?
- I can be cracked, made, told, and played. What am I?
- I am not alive, but I can grow; I don’t have lungs, but I need air; I don’t have a mouth, but water kills me. What am I?
- The person who makes it sells it. The person who buys it never uses it. The person who uses it never knows they’re using it. What is it?
- What can you hold without ever touching or using your hands?
- What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?
- I can be as thin as a picture frame but my insides have many things you can see. What am I?
- I am the beginning of the end, the end of every place. I am the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space. What am I?
- I am a word of letters three. Add two, and fewer there will be. What word am I?
- What has teeth but cannot eat?
- What has one eye but cannot see?
- What has to be broken before you can use it?
- What goes up but never comes down?
- I have cities, but no houses. I have forests, but no trees. I have rivers, but no water. What am I?
- The more you have of it, the less you see. What is it?
- What goes around the world but stays in a corner?
- What has a heart that doesn’t beat?
- What can you keep after giving it to someone?
- What has a tongue but cannot taste?
- I have no life, but I can die. What am I?
1. A matchstick 2. A joke 3. Fire 4. A coffin 5. Your breath 6. The letter “M” 7. A television 8. The letter “E” 9. Few 10. A comb 11. Needle 12. Egg 13. Age 14. A globe 15. Darkness 16. A stamp 17. An artichoke 18. Your word 19. A shoe 20. A battery
Resources for Learning Intermediate Riddles
Many of the riddles on Brainzilla will try to distract you with complicated sentence structure. You have to read carefully to make sure you haven’t misunderstood the question.
For instance, here’s a riddle: “A man says: ‘Brothers and sisters, have I none, but that man’s father is my father’s son.’ Who is he pointing at?”
If you pay attention, you’ll realize the answer is hidden in the question itself. The speaker is pointing to his son.
English Riddles for Advanced Learners
- What has a mouth but cannot eat, moves but has no legs, and has a bank but cannot put money in it?
- What is bought by the yard by is worn by the foot?
- If you have me, you want to share me. If you share me, you don’t have me. What am I?
- What has a heart that doesn’t beat, a tongue that doesn’t taste, and a soul that doesn’t rest?
- What has a head, a tail, is brown, and has no legs?
- I can bring tears to your eyes; resurrect the dead, make you smile, and reverse time. I form in an instant but last a lifetime. What am I?
- What can fill a room but takes up no space?
- I have branches, but no fruit, trunk or leaves. What am I?
- How many months have 28 days?
- I have a single eye but cannot see. I am strong and fast, but I have no arms or legs. What am I?
- What has only two words, but thousands of letters?
- What can you hold in your right hand but never in your left hand?
- I’m full of holes but strong as steel. What am I?
- I am always on the tip of your tongue, but never in your mouth. What am I?
- What can be seen in darkness, but never in light? It is present in the day, but absent in the night.
- What can be swallowed, but can also swallow you?
- Throw away the outside and cook the inside, then eat the outside and throw away the inside. What is it?
- I am always coming, but I never arrive. What am I?
- How many letters are in the alphabet?
- Which word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly?
1. A river 2. Carpet 3. A secret 4. A painting 5. A penny 6. A memory 7. Light 8. A bank 9. Every month 10. A tornado 11. A post office 12. Your left hand 13. A chain 14. A thought 15. The letter “D” 16. Pride 17. Corn on the cob 18. Tomorrow 19. Eleven letters 20. Incorrectly
Resources for Learning Advanced Riddles
Reader’s Digest: “27 of the Hardest Riddles Ever”
These questions from Reader’s Digest are designed to fool you and mislead you. The trick to solving them is to remember exactly what the question is asking you.
Here’s an example: “You see a boat filled with people. It has not sunk, but when you look again you don’t see a single person on the boat. Why?”
The answer is that everyone’s married.
This riddle is based on the double meaning of that phrase. “You don’t see a single person…” could mean that there aren’t any people on board. However, it could also mean that you don’t see any single (or, unmarried) people.
Research Maniacs: “World’s Hardest Riddles”
You’ll need to have superior comprehension skills as well as a good idea of the finer bits of English culture for these riddles from Research Maniacs.
Here’s a sample: “What is the saddest fruit?”
The answer is a blueberry.
The word “blue” not only refers to a color. In English, to be “blue” can also mean to be sad. In fact, the color blue is frequently associated with sadness.
Now that you know so many riddles in English, try to watch authentic content and find instances of native speakers using them. For example, you could try listening for riddles in YouTube videos, English language podcasts and video-focused language learning programs like FluentU.
If you’re feeling really confident, you can try this bonus exercise: come up with your own riddles.
Try to come up with something similar to the word-plays you encountered in other riddles.
For instance, the similarity between the letter “T” and “tea”, might remind you how “sea”, “see” and the alphabet “C” all sound alike. How can you relate these things in a clever way?
Try out your new riddles with friends and other English learners!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.