Helping Learners Understand Spoken English


As a verb or an action word, to puzzle someone is to cause them confusion. If you feel puzzled, you do not understand something.

At least in my life, puzzle is more common as a noun. It is both a concrete object and an abstract concept. Have you ever done a jigsaw puzzle? I did a 1,000 piece puzzle with my mom during winter vacation. It was of books and cats, two of my favorite things. There are other kinds of puzzles too. Puzzles are games, toys, and problems that can test our knowledge and ingenuity. Abstract puzzles are things that are difficult to understand or explain.

ingenuity: the quality of being clever, original, and inventive

Puzzle Synonyms

When learning vocabulary it is helpful to learn synonyms.

There are many synonyms for the word puzzle, so I’ll just tell you the ones that I hear most often.

Verbs: baffle, confound, confuse, perplex, stump, throw (someone off, someone for a loop)

English speakers tend to favor certain words. Among these, confuse is the one that I see and hear the most.

Nouns: conundrum, enigma, mystery, problem, riddle, stumper, question

Most of the nouns are pretty common except for maybe stumper, which might be a bit outdated.

Example Sentences

It can be useful to see words used in context and with common collocations.

Here are some example sentences:

  • Let’s do a puzzle.
  • The detectives were puzzled by the lack of evidence at the crime scene.
  • He had a puzzled look on his face. (Here we use it as an adjective.)
  • It was a puzzling situation. (Here is another adjective form.)
  • The clue they found was an important piece of the puzzle.
  • After many attempts, she solved the puzzle.

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Do you find English puzzling? My goal is to help you understand English and improve your communication skills. If you want to improve your conversation skills, check out my posts related to conversation skills. If you are looking to increase your vocabulary knowledge, my best recommendation is Espresso English’s Vocabulary Builder Course. Shayna’s lessons teach you 2,000+ useful vocabulary words. She offers two different levels and free samples of both Level 1 and Level 2.