What is something that belongs to you but that everyone else uses?
Hint: It’s not something you can see, touch or hold.
Your name is something that “belongs” to you alone, but everyone else “uses” it to refer to you. Congratulations if you guessed it right!
This sort of tricky question is what we’d call a “riddle.” It’s a question or puzzle that encourages you to think differently and 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.
For instance, the above riddle shows that verbs like “belong” and “use” can have abstract meanings. They don’t necessarily refer to concrete objects.
If you’re looking to learn English fluently, then learning it with the help of riddles is sure to be a fun and efficient addition to your educational program.
How Riddles Can Help You Learn English
Riddles can be an extremely interesting way to learn a language. Riddles help you learn the complicated bits that aren’t discussed in grammar textbooks, or even in everyday conversations.
1. Riddles help you learn about multiple meaning of the same word: Many words sound similar but have different meanings. Plus, almost every word has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Riddles will teach you new meanings of words you already know.
2. Riddles force you to be creative and think out-of-the-box: To solve a riddle, you’ll have to learn how to think differently and notice things that aren’t easily apparent. Riddles will also help sharpen your logical reasoning skills.
3. Riddles improve your vocabulary and make you pay attention to grammar: In addition to learning new words, you’ll also be exposed to new ideas and concepts, which will make your understanding of English far richer. In fact, riddles will make you realize how a language “thinks.” They’ll teach you how the English language works by showing you its tricks.
4. Riddles make for an interesting group activity: Riddles are more fun when you’re solving them with a friend or study partner. Maybe one of you will see something that the other can’t! Or, you can laugh together about the answer to an impossible riddle. Not only will you learn from each other, but the experience will be more memorable and worthwhile.
Riddles in English for Any Ability Level: 200+ Wonderful Word Puzzles for English Learners
The Best Websites To Discover New Riddles In English
Riddles, just like any other game, vary in difficulty. While some may be pretty easy to figure out, others require a more advanced vocabulary and some practice with creative thinking. However, no matter what skill level you’re at, we’ve got you covered with these resources.
Get Your Feet Wet: Riddles for Beginning Learners
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”
Becausse these riddles 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!
Here’s another one: “Which two keys cannot open any doors?”
If you’re thinking out of the box, you might have thought of donkey and monkey.
A riddle like this will force you to expand your vocabulary, as you’ll be thinking about words that end in “-key”.
Check out the 48 more riddles listed here as a warm-up exercise.
Flintobox: “Easy Riddles for Kids”
If you’re still facing some difficulties, you can try an easier approach. Several times, you’ll notice that the answer to a riddle is actually pretty simple and you had even known the word but just hadn’t thought of it, because it was so unexpected.
Well in that case, the 23 riddles listed on this site, have a step-by-step guide, complete with hints, to encourage you to think differently. And once you’re feeling confident, you can choose to not look at the hints.
Here’s one courtesy of Flintobox: “I like food, but water kills me. What am I?”
If you’re having trouble getting the answer, the website encourages you to think about things that might go away when you add water. That simple hint might help you get the right answer: Fire.
Genius Puzzles: “Funny Riddles in English”
You won’t have to be a “genius” to enjoy the riddles on this website. Genius Puzzles has a good mix of funny and simple riddles. Each of them has a “difficulty” and “popularity” rating, so you can choose the ones which are more popular but aren’t that tough. Some of them are pretty inventive, making you pay attention to the rules of grammar and spelling and testing your comprehension skills.
As an example, “What does an island and the letter ‘T’ have in common?”
It’s simple enough once you see it: They’re both in the middle of waTer.
By solving riddles, you’ll be able to look at words and sentences, both literally and metaphorically. That practice will further enrich your understanding of the English language.
Test the Waters: 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.
This website has a wide selection of witty riddles, easily sorted into categories such as “kids,” “funny” and “easy.” You can also search by themes, if you want to find riddles about a certain topic, such as “love,” “food,” “science” and the like. This is great if you’re looking to build your vocabulary in a particular field, be it animals or cuisine or travel.
And if you can’t get them right, fret not.
Here’s a sample : “Dogs have fleas. What do sheep have?”
The answer? Fleece!
The clue lies in the word “fleas.” Now, you may not be able to get it if you didn’t know that a sheep’s wool is often called “fleece,” which sounds a lot like “fleas.” In that case, you’ve picked up a new vocabulary word!
These riddles are a bit more complex. They’ll really test your comprehension skills! In fact, 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?”
It might appear very confusing at first, but take a second and slow down. Read the sentence carefully and break it down into parts. If you pay attention, you’ll realize the answer is hidden in the question itself.
The speaker is pointing to his son.
Brainzilla is convenient for learners on the go, since you can also print these riddles out as a PDF file and solve them at your own pace.
Dive Right In: Riddles for Advanced Learners
Finally, for those who already have a strong command of the language and have sharpened their creative thinking skills with practice, here are some really tough riddles to test your understanding.
Reader’s Digest: “25 of the Hardest Riddles Ever”
These riddles are tough–possibly some of the toughest riddles you can find! These questions are designed to fool you and mislead you. The trick to solving them is to remember exactly what the question is asking you about. Plus, you’ll have to think in an unexpected way.
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.
Read that riddle again.
“You don’t see a single person on board.”
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.
Not only do you need to focus on the word “single” as your most important clue, but you also have to think of a double meaning involving that word. If you can solve this, you are well on your way to English fluency.
Research Maniacs: “World’s Hardest Riddles”
These are apparently some of the hardest riddles ever made, so if you can solve them, consider yourself as a master of the English language who can also think “out-of-the-box” or very differently from most people.
You’ll need to have superior comprehension skills as well as a good idea of the finer bits of English culture. Many of these riddles will test your knowledge of English idioms and sayings.
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.
If some of these are just too difficult, try to use them as a learning opportunity to improve your knowledge of facts or lean more about aspects of the English language that you had previously ignored. Or, instead of trying to solve the riddles, start from the answer and work backwards, trying to figure out the play-on-words.
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 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!
By the way, if you like learning English with real-world content, you’ll love FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU’s video content exposes you to real-world English, so it’s a great way to learn the intricacies of the English language. It’ll help you improve your riddle-solving skills without a doubt!
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.