10 NY Times Crossword Puzzle Hacks You Should Know

The New York Times newspaper features one of the world’s most popular, and possibly the most difficult, crossword puzzles of today. What was once only available to the newspaper’s subscribers can now be found in the hands of millions of crossword puzzle enthusiasts around the world, with the help of the internet and modern technology such as mobile apps. This love of the NY Times crossword puzzle hasn’t fizzled out, even though many people find them quite difficult to solve. If you are one of the many people finding it too struggling to complete a puzzle in the NY Times newspaper, or on their website or mobile apps, try keeping some of these tips in mind the next time you sit down to complete them.

Spoken Phrases

When the NY Times crossword puzzle uses spoken phrases as a clue/answer combination, they can almost always be found within quotations.
  • Example clue: “Get out of here!” answer: “Leave now”

Short Exclamation Answers

If the answer is supposed to be a short exclamation, you can easily determine this by the way the clue answer or phrase is written. When the clue word or phrase is written between square brackets, that is often an indication that the answer should be a short exclamation. For example, if the clue phrase looks like this: “[It’s cold!]”, then it is safe to assume that the answer will be a short exclamation. In this case, the answer is likely to be “BRR”.

Single Word Clues

You can often find a single word as a clue in the NY Times crossword puzzle. While many people may see the single word as an indication that the answer is also a single word, this is not always the case.

Clues Ending with Question Marks

Many people do not realize this, but oftentimes, the NY Times will place a question mark at the end of a clue word in order to indicate that the clue is a play on words.

Tag Abbreviations

Tag abbreviations are often found in the NY Times crossword puzzle clues, however did you know that depending upon the type of abbreviation used in the clue can indicate how you should solve that clue? When a clue includes a tag abbreviation such as “abbr.” or any other abbreviation more specific than a simple “e. g.”  then the answer will often be an abbreviation as well. For example if the clue is “M. D. org.” then the answer will more than likely be something similar to AMA.

Foreign Language Answers

Sometimes you can find clues that indicate that the answer is in a different language. The clues indicate this by a clue tag. For instance, if the clue is “Summer, Fr.” the “Fr.” part of the clue indicates that the answer is in French, which would mean the answer is Ete.

Clue/Answer Combination Tenses

Many people overlook this simple clue within the clue words or phrases of a crossword puzzle in the NY Times newspaper. If the clue words are in past tense, then it is important to remember that the answer will also likely be in past tense. Clue/answer combinations are always in the same tense, parts of speech, number, and degree.

Parenthetical Clues

The NY Times often uses parentheses in clue words or clue phrases when the clue word needs an additional word to indicate the correct answer.
  • Example: “Think (over)” = MULL

In addition to parenthetical clues, you can also often find these types of clues with the word “with”. For example, the clue may look similar to “Become understood, with in”. This clue would indicate that the answer is “sink” since the word “sink” only means to become understood when it is accompanied with the word “with” ( e.g. “sink in” means to become understood).

Capitalization of clue words

Many people do not realize this, and the NY Times often uses this tactic to trick their subscribers that complete their famous crossword puzzles, however it is important to keep in mind that the NY Times crossword puzzle clues always begin with a capital letter, regardless of whether the clue is a complete sentence or proper noun. That said, if you see a single word clue, such as the word “John” as a clue word to a puzzle, do not automatically assume that the capitalization of this word indicates that it is a proper noun. It could be that, however, it could also be the slang meaning for the word “bathroom”.

Substitution Test
Finally, if you are still stuck on a particular clue/answer combination, it is important to remember that in many cases, a substitution test can be performed to help you verify, or rule out, certain answers. To perform a substitution test, first create a sentence using the clue word or phrase. Then, substitute the clue word(s) for the answer you believe is correct. If when you substitute your answer into the sentence, and the sentence remains the same in tense and meaning, then the answer is likely correct. However, if your answer does not allow you to keep the sentence the same, then you may need to reconsider your answer. While this substitution test may not work for certain clue/answer combinations, you will find that it works quite often for the NY Times crossword puzzle clues.