Tic Tac Toe – A Quick and Easy Way to Review Grammar and Vocabulary


Tic Tac Toe is a quick and fun way to review a number of grammar forms. I often use it to practise irregular forms of the past simple.

You need two teams of 1-4 to play this tic tac toe game, one team plays as Xs, the other as Os.

Draw a classic Tic Tac Toe grid on the board and write in each square one of the items to be reviewed.

Teams take it in turns to choose a square. After consulting with the team a player makes a sentence using the chosen word in the correct form. If the sentence is correct, place an X or O in the square depending on the team. If the sentence is wrong the square stays in play.

The team which manages to connect three Xs or Os in a row – either horizontally, vertically or diagonally wins the game. If the game ends in a Tic Tac Toe Tie then have a quick fire question up your sleeve to determine a winner.

Tic Tac Toe Tip

Put one of the more challenging grammar items in the high-value middle square.

Here are some of the grammar forms you can practice with this game:

  • Simple past irregular verbs

Write the infinitive form and students must make sentences using the past form.

  • Adverbs

Write the adjective form and students make sentences using an adverb.

Suggested words: hard,  easy, fast, good, bad, quick, angry, happy, normal

  • Verbs followed by infinitive or gerund

Write the verb, students make sentences using a second verb in the infinitive or gerund form.

Suggested words: enjoy, suggest, avoid, remember, start, ask, prepare, promise, forget (this website has a nice list)

You could also play this game using comparatives, phonetics, compound nouns, etc.

Other ideas

An anonymous contributor suggested these variations on the classic Tic Tac Toe format.

I have a couple of tic tac toe variations. The first one is to simply require a player to answer a question in order to take her or his turn. This is a fun way to review in a small class. For example, if we have been studying animal habitats, I might ask, “Where do emus/ penguins live? ” If the student does not give a correct answer, the turn is forfeited and the other player is asked a question.

A variant on this I call devil’s tic tac toe: The person whose turn it is may replace one of the opponent’s marks with her or his (assuming that the player has earned the right to put a marker on by correctly answering my questions). This can take a lot longer to play than traditional tic tac toe, but it is also more exciting and more dynamic.

Laura writes:

When I saw this game an idea came to mind and it worked wonderfully for my adults’ spoken class. I do the grid and write a topic in each square then I divide my students into two groups and they choose a topic and have to talk about it for 2min (for weaker students – 1min) and when they finish I give them their X’s and O’s. The teams have to compete to see which team can win.

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