Tic Tac Toe – A Fun Way to Review Grammar and Vocabulary


Tic Tac Toe is a fun and easy game that can be used to review a variety of grammar forms, including irregular forms of the past simple.

To play this game, you will need two teams of 1-4 players, with one team playing as Xs and the other as Os.

Begin by drawing a classic Tic Tac Toe grid on the board and filling each square with one of the items to be reviewed.

Teams take turns choosing a square and making a sentence using the chosen word in the correct form. If the sentence is correct, the team places an X or O in the square. If the sentence is incorrect, the square remains in play.

The first team to connect three Xs or Os in a row – either horizontally, vertically or diagonally – wins the game. If the game ends in a tie, have a quick question ready to determine a winner.

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

Here are some suggested forms that you can practice with this game:

  • Simple past irregular verbs: Write the infinitive form and have students make sentences using the past form.
  • Adverbs: Write the adjective form and have 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 and have 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).
  • Vocabulary: Use Tic Tac Toe to review vocabulary. Write a list of words on the Tic Tac Toe grid, and have students create sentences or definitions for the words they choose.
  • Pronunciation: Use Tic Tac Toe to practice pronunciation by writing a list of minimal pairs (words that differ by only one sound, such as “sit” and “set”) and having students say the word that corresponds to the square they choose.

You can also adapt this game for other grammar forms, such as comparatives, phonetics, compound nouns, and more.

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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