©Pat Ashforth & Steve Plummer 2019

Contact Us

Pat Ashforth & Steve Plummer

Tips for Cracking Codes

In the English language some letters are used more often than others.   


The most common (in alphabetical order) are A E S T.


The most commonly occurring 3-letter words are AND and THE


Almost every 2-letter word has a vowel, or a Y, and a consonant


A word with a single letter is most likely to be A or I


Some pairs of letters occur frequently together, such as SH, CK



There is no foolproof method but it often helps to start by looking for three letter words. You can probably tell, from the position in the sentence, whether a word might be ‘and’ or ‘the’. If you can establish that a symbol might stand for E, you can then find all the other Es.


Look for double letters. There are some letters that never appear in twos. Most appear after a vowel (sitting, happen, tell, for example).


Remember that the message may contain a name with an unusual arrangement of letters.


Click here for an example of code-cracking.


An alternative way is to use the frequency of the letters as your of starting point. Find the symbols that occur most often and decide which might be E (often the most common), A, S or T.


Some letters, such as J, Q, X, and Z occur rarely.


Cracking Codes 1