English teaching resources: Riddles (EBC Tefl – course resources)

English level: B2 – C1

Objective: First of all to have fun, and to increase imagination.

Use riddles to teach English, have some fun and increase your students’ imagination. Riddles exist in most cultures and tell a lot about how people entertained themselves before TV, movies, and modern technology gave us passive entertainment. Students could either listen to the riddles or read them and then try to find the solution.​

Activity 1: Reading or listening

Read the ridles to the students, or have them read them. After each riddle, you have the students guess the answer, and ask them if they have a similar riddle in their own language.

I am a seven letter word containing thousands of letters. What am I?

I can be long, or I can be short. I can be grown, and I can be bought. I can be painted, or left bare. I can be round or square. What am I?

The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?

Feed me and I live, yet give me a drink and I die.

You can see me in water, but I never get wet. What am I?

What is harder to catch, the faster you run?

What belongs to you, but others use it more than you do?

What common English verb becomes its own past tense by rearranging its letters?

What’s the difference between here and there?

Take off my skin – I won´t cry, but you will! What am I?

We hurt without moving, and poison without touching. We can bear truths and lies, but are not judged by size. What are we?


A mailbox

Your fingernails



Your reflection

Your breath

Your name


The letter “t”

An onion


Activity 2: Speaking

Have students in groups brainstorm on riddles they know, try to translate them to English, and then tell them to the rest of the class.