Charades Rules: Learn to Play Charades

Charades is a word/phrase guessing game. It is an acting game in which one player acts out a word or phrase, and his or her team guesses the answer. The specific rules people use to play Charades varies a bit from person to person, but here is a step-by-step guide to learn to play charades.

When acting out a charades clue, a player must get the other players to guess what phrase they have without making any sounds, or saying any words. It’s all pretty easy once you learn how to play charades…


The player needs to let his guessers know which category his clue is in…

  • Movie – Pretend to crank an old-fashioned movie camera.
  • TV – Draw a rectangle in the air to outline a TV screen.
  • Book – Unfold your hands as if they were a book.
  • Song – Pretend to sing into a microphone. (but don’t make any noise!!)
  • People – Stand with your hands on your hips (Some people ‘bow’ to indicate a man, and ‘courtesy’ to indicate a woman. Although you can simply invent your own version of this distinction.)
  • A Thing – Hold your hands out, palms up, as if holding a ‘thing’.
  • An Event – Point to your wrist as if you’re wearing a watch.
  • Quotation or Phrase – Make air-quotes (quotation marks in the air with index fingers and middle fingers).
  • Location – Make a circle with one hand, then point to it, as if pointing to a dot on a map.

How To Win:
If any one of the guessers says the correct word or phrase within the time limit , their team gets the point! Make sure your guessers are always guessing.

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The Gestures:

Two Words… 1st Word… Sounds Like…

Normally, when a player starts to ‘act’ out a clue, they should start by indicating how many words the phrase is, and then act out each word at a time. The ‘Actor’ indicates to the other players how many words are in the phrase by holding up their fingers.

If the phrase is, ‘Singing in the Rain‘, the actor would hold up 4 fingers, to indicate 4 words. The players who are guessing should respond by saying the number of words aloud, “4 words”. Next, if the actor wants to act out the first word of the phrase ‘Singing‘, then he/she should hold up 1 finger, to indicate they want to act out the first word. The players who are guessing should respond by saying ‘1st word’.

Words & Syllables

  • Number of words in the title: Hold up the number of fingers.
  • Which word you’re working on: Hold up the number of fingers again.
  • Number of syllables in the word: Lay the number of fingers on your arm.
  • Which syllable you’re working on: Lay the number of fingers on your arm again.

Entire Concept
In some cases it may make more sense to try to act out whole phrase at once or the “entire concept”. Sometimes referred to as ‘Whole Thing‘: Sweep your arms in a big circle to indicate “whole thing.”

Small Words
Common small words are signed by holding the index finger and thumb close together, but not touching, as if holding something very small. Then the players try to guess the small word by yelling out all the ‘small words’ they can think of. Such as: the, and, an, am, be, it, on, to, of…etc.

Sounds Like
This almost always means “rhymes with.” (But doesn’t always have to rhyme) Gesture: Tug on earlobe.

On The Nose
“On the nose” (when someone calls out a correct word): point at your nose with one hand, while pointing at the person with your other hand. Make sure that all players understand that gesture!

The idea is, ‘nodding’ means on the right track, ‘On The Nose’ means ‘lock it in’, that word is absolutley correct.

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