There are some words on the board, "fine", "good", and "lost". I'd like to use "I'm 3" to hit those words as spymaster. Would that be against the rules?

This is the closest rule I could find in the official rules for the standard edition of Codenames.

Compound Words English has three ways to write a compound word. Greenhouse is one word. Pack rat is two words. Mother-in-law is hyphenated. Technically, only greenhouse can be a one-word clue. You can decide to allow any compound words. However, in no case should a player be allowed to invent compound words. Lunar squid is not a valid clue for MOON and OCTOPUS

I'm not sure if contractions are considered compound words though.

1 Answer 1


TL;DR. 'I'm' is fine as a clue. Others may disagree but they are 'looking for trouble'!

The rules to Codenames here give lots of rules on what is or isn't a valid clue. I think the most important is this heading


They also say

Sometimes you have to make judgment calls about what is valid and what is not. Different groups may prefer to play the game differently.


anybody who says you can't say sparrow when ROW is on the table is just trying to cause trouble.

I think the rules are weirdly clear that this is a game where rule lawyering is NOT encouraged. They say if you're not sure they to asked your fellow spymaster but I think the insinuation is to keep the game light and fun unless its a very clear rules break. This is a light party game after all and should be kept that way. To reiterate "DON'T BE TOO STRICT".

Saying "I'm" is something that is very common usage and a clue people will know. It's not like you've invented something "OKIsland" to indicate 'Fine', 'Good' and 'Lost'. or nonsense like "Penal'TV". Yes it might be a contraction of two words but it's common usage is said as one word.

I'd argue that a clue like "'Twas'" is valid for "Night" and "Christmas" as it is said out loud as a single word

You might also to want look at this English StackExchange question which debates if "It's" is one word or two. If you type "It's" into a word processor and do a word count then it counts as one word. "I'm" does the same.

  • 4
    The other aspect is that if you're ever not sure whether a clue is valid, you can ask the opposing Spymaster. As long as they're ok with it, it should be fine.
    – ConMan
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 23:06
  • "this is not a game where rule lawyering is NOT encouraged" - I think the double negative here is unintentional. Don't you mean this is a game where rule laywering is not encouraged?
    – Will
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 15:23
  • @Will. yes that was unintentional. edit made thanks. Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 20:15

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