English Letter Box

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Three letter words are the foundation of English; fundamentals like “and” and “the” make the language work. They occur in virtually every conversation. The following list of common three-letter words -- organized by part of speech -- are words that we use often. These words make up a big part of our language whether we are talking, texting, emailing or writing, enabling us to construct sentences and communicate effectively.

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Now that you have thought about this, do you play Scrabble? Think of the ways these common three letter words could help you earn points and possibly win the game. That three letter word could be the one word that makes you Scrabble champion.

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Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives are descriptive words that explain or specify things about nouns. Adverbs are distinct from adjectives in that they modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, not nouns. However, many three letter words in English can function as both.

  • All: The entire amount, the full extent
  • Any: One of a group, no matter which; a randomly chosen individual
  • How: In what way, in a particular fashion, can be used in questions (e.g. 'How are you today?”) or statements (e.g., “She knew how to fix the car.”)
  • Mad: Most commonly means angry or upset; also an out-of-date way of describing someone with a mental illness, and by extension anything strange or bizarre
  • New: The opposite of old, something fresh or unprecedented
  • Now: At the current time, immediately
  • Old: Something which has existed for a long time
  • Well: The adverbial form of good, meaning “done in a good way” or “happened in a positive fashion”


Articles are a special kind of word in English. There are only two in the whole language, and they are used to differentiate between a specific noun and a general one.

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  • The: Article that refers to a definite noun (e.g., “the bank,” “the shop,” and “the house”)


Conjunctions are words that hold sentences together. Being some of the simplest English words, they often have simple, three-letter spellings.

  • And: The basic conjunction linking two words together (e.g., “The couple went out for dinner and a movie.” )
  • But: With the exception of (e.g., “Everyone but Joe enjoyed the party.”)
  • Nor: Not that and also not the following (e.g., “I like neither Peter nor Paul.”)
  • Yet: Although or in spite of (e.g., “The runner suffered cramps at the beginning yet managed to win her race.”)


Nouns are people, places, things or ideas.

  • Boy: A young male person
  • Can: A cylindrical container, usually made of thin metal
  • Car: A powered, four-wheeled passenger vehicle for driving on roads
  • Dad: Familiar form of address for a father
  • Day: A time period equal to one rotation of the Earth, or only the part of that period between sunrise and sunset
  • Dew: Condensed moisture, as in the water found on grass after a cool night
  • Gym: A room for athletics
  • Ink: Liquid used to write, most often found inside a pen
  • Jet: A stream of water
  • Key: Small metal tool used to open a door or start a car
  • Log: A large piece of wood, particularly a section cut from a tree
  • Man: Aan adult male
  • Mom: Familiar form of address for a mother
  • One: The first number; a single object, person, place or idea
  • Pal: A casual word for friend
  • Saw: A serrated blade with a handle, used as a tool to cut wood or other materials
  • Urn: A decorative container with a narrow neck and rounded body
  • Vet: Short for veterinarian, a doctor who treats animals
  • Way: A path or road; a method of doing something
  • Yap: A shrill bark
  • Zoo: An entertainment venue where people see interesting and unusual animals
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Prepositions connect words or phrases to particular other words. Unlike conjunctions, prepositions describe the relationship between parts of a sentence.

  • For: Because, since, or to indicate purpose (e.g., “I brought a bouquet for your mother.)


Pronouns are words that replace nouns in a sentence. This avoids repetition of information the reader already knows.

  • Her: The possessive form of 'she'
  • Him: A male human being
  • His: The possessive form of “he”
  • Our: The possessive form of the plural personal pronoun “we”
  • She: The standard female nominative pronoun (e.g., “Maria owned a house. She also had two cars and a cat.”)
  • Who: What person? 'Who' can be used in questions (e.g., “Who is your girlfriend?”) or statements (e.g., “His girlfriend, who is named Candy, visited last night.”)
  • You: The second person pronoun; the person to whom something is said or done (e.g., “I sent you a letter yesterday.”)


Verbs express an action or occurrence.

  • Act: To do something
  • Are: Present tense of the verb “to be” (e.g., They are English teachers.)
  • Bar: To shut out, to not let in
  • Eat: To consume food
  • Get: To come into possession of something
  • Has: Past tense of the verb to have; to own or possess
  • Let: To allow, to give permission to
  • Nap: To take a brief sleep, to doze
  • Out: To reveal something
  • Put: To place something in a spot of your choice
  • Ram: To hit or strike with force
  • Say: To speak words
  • See: To look or perceive with one's eyes
  • Tan: To turn golden brown from the sun
  • Use: To employ for a task (e.g., “You can use that pen to sign your name.”)
  • Was: Past tense of the verb “to be” (e.g., “He was working yesterday.”)
  • Wed: To get married

Three Letters FTW

FTW is shorthand for “For The Win,” one of many three letter abbreviations that also appear in English. Check out the rest at our list of common abbreviations in English. Three letter words are among the most basic, and therefore most important, components of the English language. Learning them is a vital step in mastering English.

Plus, knowing your three letter words can make you really good at Scrabble! We at YourDictionary also host the best Scrabble tool on the Internet. Scrabble and other word games are the most fun way to master the English language. Have a look at three letter words in Scrabble to get started.

Woman Reading a Letter
Dutch: Brieflezende vrouw
ArtistJohannes Vermeer
Yearca. 1663[1]
MediumOil on canvas
MovementDutch Golden Age painting
Dimensions46.6 cm × 39.1 cm (18.3 in × 15.4 in)
LocationRijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Woman Reading a Letter (Dutch: Brieflezende vrouw)[1][2] is a painting by the Dutch Golden Age painterJohannes Vermeer, produced in around 1663. It has been part of the collection of the City of Amsterdam since the Van der Hoop bequest in 1854, and in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam since it opened in 1885, the first Vermeer it acquired.[3]


The central element of the painting is a woman in blue standing in front of a window (not depicted) reading a letter.[4] The woman appears to be pregnant, although many have argued that the woman's rounded figure is simply a result of the fashions of the day.[5] Although the woman's loose clothing may be suggestive, pregnancy was very rarely depicted in art during this period.[6]

While the contents of the letter are not visible, the composition of the painting is revealing. The map of the County of Holland and West Friesland[7] in the Netherlands on the wall behind the woman has been interpreted as suggesting that the letter she reads was written by a traveling husband.[8] Alternatively, the box of pearls barely visible on the table before the woman might suggest a lover as pearls are sometimes a symbol of vanity.[9] The very action of letter-reading reflects a thematic pattern throughout Vermeer's works, as a common private moment becomes revealing of the human condition.[10]

The painting is unique among Vermeer's interiors in that no fragment of corner, floor or ceiling can be seen.[11]

The composition and the female figure are similar to Vermeer's 1657-59 painting Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. This work has similarities to his similarly-dated Woman with a Pearl Necklace and Woman Holding a Balance. The map, drawn by Balthasar Florisz. van Berckenrode [nl], was published in 1620 and reprinted by Willem Blaeu in 1621; it also appears in Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl. The latter however, shows a polychromatic map while Woman Reading a Letter depicts a monochromatic print. That such a map really existed is proven by a monochromatic exemplar preserved in the collection of the Westfries Museum at Hoorn.[7]

See also[edit]

  • The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway #8), a novel by Ellie Griffiths


  1. ^ abWoman Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1663, Rijksmuseum. Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
  2. ^(in Dutch)Brieflezende vrouw, Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1663, Rijksmuseum. Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
  3. ^Barker, Emma; Nick Webb; Kim Woods (1999). The changing status of the artist. Yale University Press. p. 194. ISBN978-0-300-07742-1. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  4. ^White, James Boyd (1 April 2003). The Edge of Meaning. University of Chicago Press. p. 263. ISBN978-0-226-89480-5. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  5. ^Snow, Edward A. (1994). A study of Vermeer. University of California Press. p. 168. ISBN978-0-520-07132-2. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  6. ^De Winkel, Marieke (1998). 'Interpretation of Dress in Vermeer's Paintings'. Studies in the History of Art. 55: 326–330. JSTOR42622616.
  7. ^ abJames A. Welu, 1975, 'Vermeer: His Cartographic Sources', The Art Bulletin57: 529-547
  8. ^White (2003), 265.
  9. ^Schneider, Norbert (17 May 2000). Vermeer, 1632-1675: veiled emotions. Taschen. p. 49. ISBN978-3-8228-6323-7. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  10. ^Baker, Christopher. 'Vermeer, Jan'. Oxford Art Online. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  11. ^Snow (1994), 167.

Further reading[edit]

  • Liedtke, Walter A. (2001). Vermeer and the Delft School. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN978-0-87099-973-4.
  • Weber, Gregor J.M. (2013). Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Translated by Hoyle, Michael. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum. ISBN978-94-91714-06-1.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Woman Reading a Letter at Wikimedia Commons

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