How to Play Charades

Charades is a popular guessing game. Players work as a team with one member acting out a phrase without speaking or making a sound, and the other team members guessing what the phrase is as quickly as possible.


The rules used for the acted charades are usually informal and vary widely, but commonly agree in essence with the basic rules. Here are those basic rules fine-tuned to Pantoparty:

  • The players divide into two or more teams.
  • One member of the team, the "actor", draws a card with phrases, which is kept secret from the remainder of the other team, the "guessers".
  • The actor then has a limited period of time in which to convey the secret phrases to the guessers by pantomime.
  • The actor can act out the phrases in order of his choosing and can switch between phrases anytime.
  • The actor may not make any sounds or lip movements.
  • The actor cannot point out at any of the objects present in the scene, if by doing so they are helping their teammates.
  • Most commonly, the actor is allowed to make any gestures other than blatantly spelling out the word.
  • The guessers attempt to guess the words or phrases based on the actor's performance. They can ask questions, to which the actor may give non-verbal responses, such as nodding in affirmation.
  • If any of the guessers says the correct word or phrase within the time limit in the literal form as written on the card, the team gets a point for that phrase.
  • The teams alternate until each team member has had an opportunity to be the actor.

Since so many rules can vary, clarifying all the rules before the game begins can avoid problems later.

Standard Signals

  • Action/Verb - Run in place.
  • Location - Make a circle with one hand, then point to it, as if pointing to a dot on a map.
  • Person - Stand with hands on hips.
  • Number of words in the phrase - Hold up the number of fingers.
  • Which word you’re working on - Hold up the number of fingers again.
  • Length of word - Make a "little" or "big" sign as if you were measuring a fish.
  • Sounds like - Cup one hand behind an ear.
  • Longer version - Pretend to stretch a piece of elastic.
  • Shorter version - Do a karate chop with your hand.
  • Plural - Link your little fingers.
  • Past tense - Wave your hand over your shoulder toward your back.
  • Not even close, I’ll start over - Wave hand in a wide sweep.
  • Close, keep guessing - Spin your hands in a circular motion imitating a spinning wheel towards a person who is close to correct guess.
  • Correct guess - Point at your nose with one hand, while pointing at the person with your other hand.