WHAT Me Study - Making Study Lists Using WHAT

WHAT, Wolfberg's Helpful Anagramming Tool, is really a toolbox of powerful tools with many facilities. You can make effective use of WHAT right away by using just a few of its features, which you can learn from "WHAT's First - Getting Started Using WHAT". This tutorial document introduces you to the more advanced topic of using WHAT to prepare study lists. This includes topics of layouts of presentations, choosing what might be presented, printing, and some use of flashcards.

This document was updated to employ examples for the OWL3 Lexicon in June, 2015. The previous version from 2006 was based on OWL1.


  1. Introduction
  2. Layouts
  3. Fours from Hooked Threes
    1. Preparing Printed Lists
    2. Command Sequences for Preparing Printed Lists
    3. Layouts
      1. Preparations for Printing
      2. All Threes Densely Packed
      3. All Threes Loosely Packed
      4. All Fours Based on Threes
      5. All Fours Based on Threes Showing Hook Letters
      6. All Fours Based on Threes Showing Unhooks
      7. All Fours Based on Threes Showing Hook Letters and Unhooks
      8. All the Fours and Unhooks
      9. All Fours Based on Threes with Unhooks and Definitions
      10. All Fours Based on Threes with Anagrams
  4. Studying Interactively
    1. Quizzing Yourself

1.  Introduction

WHAT is command language oriented, which means you type commands on the computer keyboard, many of which are interpreted as questions. But in addition, WHAT includes a graphical user interface (GUI) to help you formulate these commands. The GUI also serves to report on the meanings of the commands. You can learn a lot about the facilities by looking at the GUI, including the menus.

You will want to be using the Query and Presentation tabs on the left side of the screen, as you create and execute commands.

You can use WHAT to make presentations in its workspace where you will read study lists. If you want to print study lists, you can use WHAT to do this directly, or you can export the workspace to a file and then use another tool to do the printing. The first method will probably suit you just fine, but if you want your printed pages to bit fancier than what you get produced using WHAT, you may opt for the second method. Examples of tools from which you might do printing are Notepad and MS Word.

2.  Layouts

This document begins by describing the features of WHAT that support the presentation of the slate, especially the layout. Examples to demonstrate these layoutsQ are based on all the words ending in V. These words can be placed onto the slate using this command:

Here is the presentation of these words using WHAT's default layout settings:
ERUV+     IMPROV    LEV       MAZELTOV  REV       SPIV      VAV
GUV       LAV       LUV       NAV+      SEV+      TAV
In the above presentation, the words are in alphabetical order in columns. Spacing of the columns is computed according to the longest word presentation. Since LEITMOTIV has 9 letters, the columns are 10 characters wide. WHAT supports a variety of ways to determine column width: WHAT's default layout is expandable spacing with a width of 9.

Examples help demonstrate variations. Use the GUI to set the parameters:


The above presentation has two groups separated by a blank line. Since the column width is 6, only up to 5-letter words can be shown in the first group. The second group then has columns that are 12 characters wide, and since the other words are no longer than 11 letters, they can all be shown in the second group.

The following presentation using minimal spacing with a spacing of 3:

DEV         IMPROV      LISTSERV+   NAV+        SHIV        VAV
ERUV+       ISOGRIV     LUV         PERV        SPIV
GANEV       LAV         MAGLEV      REV         STOTINOV
HALIEROV+   LEV         MOSHAV      SEV+        TOLARJEV

Up to this point, layouts have been in columns. As you can see on the left side of the Slate Presentation Layout Dialog, the other options are:

The third option results in words layed out the same as with columns. The difference is the words are in order across the rows instead of down the columns. With packed rows, words do not line up, but you can squeeze more words together. Here is how packed rows with a spacing of 1 looks:
If you use packed rows, employ commas, and set a spacing of 2, this is what the presentation is:

Examples up to now have presented the words only. Along with words, you may show associated data. You can use the mouse to check options on the Presentation tab. If you want to show word lengths, click on the small square box labeled "Lengths". You will see that just a vertical bar is added to the command line. You can then press the Enter key, and you will be shown this presentation:

DEV_______3c LAV_______3c MOSHAV____6c SPIV______4c
ERUV+_____4c LEITMOTIV_9c NAV+______3c STOTINOV__8c
GANEV_____5c LEV_______3c PERV______4c TAV_______3c
GUV_______3c LISTSERV+_8c REV_______3c TOLARJEV__8c
HALIEROV+_8c LUV_______3c SCHAV_____5c VAV_______3c
IMPROV____6c MAGLEV____6c SEV+______3c
ISOGRIV___7c MAZELTOV__8c SHIV______4c
The suffix letter "c" stands for "characters". Another option is to show word scores, and the presentation is:
DEV________7p LAV________6p MOSHAV____14p SPIV_______9p
ERUV+______7p LEITMOTIV_64p NAV+_______6p STOTINOV__61p
GANEV______9p LEV________6p PERV_______9p TAV________6p
GUV________7p LISTSERV+_61p REV________6p TOLARJEV__68p
HALIEROV+_64p LUV________6p SCHAV_____13p VAV________9p
IMPROV____13p MAGLEV____12p SEV+_______6p
ISOGRIV___61p MAZELTOV__72p SHIV______10p
The suffix letter "p" stands for "points". You may choose to see more than one category of associated data. Here is the presentation with back hooks, scores, and lengths:
DEVais______7p_3c LEVaosy_____6p_3c SCHAVs_____13p_5c
ERUV+s______7p_4c LISTSERV+s_61p_8c SEV+s_______6p_3c
GANEVs______9p_5c LUVs________6p_3c SHIVaes____10p_4c
GUVs________7p_3c MAGLEVs____12p_6c SPIVs_______9p_4c
HALIEROV+__64p_8c MAZELTOV___72p_8c STOTINOV___61p_8c
IMPROVes___13p_6c MOSHAV_____14p_6c TAVs________6p_3c
ISOGRIVs___61p_7c NAV+esy_____6p_3c TOLARJEV___68p_8c
LAVaes______6p_3c PERVosy_____9p_4c VAVs________9p_3c
LEITMOTIVs_64p_9c REVs________6p_3c
Notice the back hooks immediately follow each word and are lowercase letters. All hook letters are shown; see the three back hooks of SHIV in the above presentation.

Another kind of associated data to show with a word is its anagrams. This can lead to rather wide column widths, as demonstrated here:

DEV               LEV               SCHAV
ERUV+             LISTSERV+         SEV+
GANEV_____(VEGAN) LUV               SHIV
GUV_______(VUG)   MAGLEV            SPIV
IMPROV            MOSHAV            TAV_______(VAT)
ISOGRIV           NAV+______(VAN)   TOLARJEV
LAV               PERV              VAV

Some folks like to learn words with their meanings. Here is what a study list could look like with definitions (using command 6'"):

       (first 6 items only)
DEV       - DEV n pl. -S deva
ERUV+     - ERUV n pl. ERUVIM or ERUVS an enclosed area in which Jews are permitted to carry on activities normally forbidden on the Sabbath
GANEV     - GANEV n pl. -S ganef
GUV       - GUV n pl. -S a governor
HALIEROV+ - HALIER n pl. HALIERS or HALIEROV a former monetary unit of Slovakia
IMPROV    - IMPROV n pl. -S improvisation

One of the options for showing associated data is labeled "Blanks", and this option affects the entire presentation instead of individual words. This option has an effect only when a query includes one blank. We start with the words ending in V on the slate, as all the examples up to now have had. The query:

indicates each slate word is considered, and it is combined with one blank to yield words, and these words are presented using the "Blanks" option. The presentation for this is:
A: AVER       AVES       DEVA       LAVA       PARVE
   PAVER      PAVIS      RAVE       SAVE       SHIVA
   VASE       VERA       LAVE       LEVA       VALE
   VEAL       VELA       ULVA
D: VELD       DEVS
E: AVENGE     EVER       EVES       GENEVA     HIVES
   IMPROVE    NAVE       REVUE      SHIVE      VANE
   VEER       VEES       VENA
G: VANG       VUGG
I: DEVI+      DIVE       EVIL       LIVE       RIVE
   VAIL       VAIN       VEIL       VIAL       VIDE
   VIED       VIER       VIES       VILE       VINA
   VIPER      VISE       VITA       VIVA       VLEI+
O: DOVE       HAVOCS     LEVO       LOVE       NOVA
   OVAL       OVER       PERVO+     PROVE      ROVE
   NAVS+      PERVS      SCHAVS     SEVS+      SHIVS
   SPIVS      TAVS       VANS       VAST       VATS
   VAVS       VEGANS     VUGS
T: VERT       VERTU      VEST       VETS
U: ERUV+      VATU
Y: LEVY       NAVY       PERVY+     VERY
See that each of the possible letters the blank can be to yield words is shown at the left side preceding a colon, and all the resulting words are then shown on one or more lines, where they are ordered across the rows.

In a sense, sorting of the slate presentation is another aspect of layout over which you have control. At the bottom of the Presentation tab are menus that support your making WHAT commands to sort the order of presentation based on up to seven different sort keys. The default order is alphabetical, but you have many other choices. A likely one you might use is based on word length. Go to the Presentation tab to see the other possibilities. The following is an example of the presentation of words ending in V sorted by decreasing word length using the command *V/<|:

Without other sort subcommands, WHAT is using a secondary key of alphabetical order in the above presentation. If you specify several sorts, provide these in increasing order of importance; that is, the final one you mention is the primary key that WHAT will use.

You now have seen many of the options for laying out the presentation along with some of the options for what associated data you may want to show. With this knowledge, you are in a position to make choices how you would like to make presentations for study lists.

Consider some choices how you might want to study 4-letter words. The simplest idea is to merely list all fours compactly so you can look them over in a small number of pages. You can choose whether they should be in order by columns or in rows. There is a setting in WHAT that is important for this kind of presentation, and that is the number of rows per page. Without setting this quantity it would be best to output a large list of words in rows. This is when the number of required rows exceeds the length of a page. That number may be something like 60 rows on a page. There are 4214 4-letter words. If you lay them out with two spaces between each, and if your page width is 72 columns, you can get 12 words on one line. That results in more than 351 lines of words, or about 6 pages worth. If you were to present them all in columns, each column would be about 350 rows long, and you would have to look at multiple pages to see one column. It makes a lot more sense to either end columns on a page or output the entire list in rows. This choice is a personal one - there is not one correct way. If you do choose to output in columns, then you would want to not use the default of an unlimited number of rows per page, but set that number to something like 60. See the "Rows/Page" area of the Presentation tab.

If you develop a list of words to study with no associated data, they can be moved from the slate to a wordlist, or they may be exported as a list of words to a file. If you want to insure the list of words consists only of uppercase letters, with the list on the slate, perform the [] command to pass all words back through WHAT. Without doing this, the list will include lowercase letters for each letter that was chosen for a specified blank. Doing this is not important when you plan to use WHAT to look at your list.

WHAT's slate presentation with layouts and the inclusion of associated data is done only when the program makes these presentations in the WHAT workspace. Therefore, if you plan to make such a presentation that you intend to export, you may want to clear the workspace before making the presentation. The command to do this is the /CW command, and you can menu pick File→Clear→Workspace (via subcommand) to have WHAT provide that subcommand on the command line in the workspace.

3.  Fours from Hooked Threes

In order to demonstrate several of the possibilities that WHAT can provide, we have chosen one group of words that are of interest to many competitive Scrabble® players, and these are the four-letter words that can be made by extending a three-letter word at either end. There are 4214 fours altogether, but there are only 3045 fours that can be made from threes, so it makes sense to break up your studying such that you first consider only the fours that can be made from threes.

First, this tutorial will consider the various possible kinds of study aids, and then it will describe the WHAT command sequences to produce these aids.

3.1  Preparing Printed Lists

If you want to prepare a list of all of the fours that can be built from threes on paper, there are two ways to go:

You could instead produce a list of all the fours (4214 of them) with their unhooks. With a spacing of two, as in the above presentation, these can fit on 9 printed pages. If you look at these and want to study the fours that are extendable from threes, then skip past those fours that do not show an unhook indicator (the minus sign) at either end.

There are a couple of other choices you can make when preparing study lists:

3.2  Command Sequences for Preparing Printed Lists

The previous section described several different choices you have when preparing printed lists. In order to be more instructive, the command sequences to make the various listings were purposely skipped in the previous section. This section now presents these command sequences.

3.2.1  Preparations for Printing

Before making any output to be printed, be sure your workspace width is appropriate for printing. The easiest way to do this is to adjust the size of the WHAT window and look at the size of the workspace window as noted at the lower right on the status line. For further details about these widths, please see the "Workspace Size and Line Wrapping" section of the "WHAT User Guide".

When producing columnated output, you should also be sure how many lines of content fit on one printed page. You can run one experiment, such as listing all the twos with their definitions and printing that, using these commands:

When you send the printed workspace to your printer queue, WHAT announces the number of lines of content that fit on each printed page. This number will then be the correct argument to use in the command to set a page length. The page length affects only presentations in columns. Use the GUI to prepare this command by clicking on the ellipsis in the Rows/Page box in the Layout section of the Presentation tab. It is likely you will then want to set this value for the long-term and so you will need to suffix your command with an exclamation point. WHAT can provide this for you when you click the Make Long-Term button above the workspace.

One more recommended step you should take in setting up to produce printed output is to turn off one of the default settings that controls whether WHAT indicates letters matched by blanks by displaying them as uppercase green letters. If you do want these blanks to show up as uppercase letters in printed output, then perform the /-LB command to not specially show letters matched by blanks (by making them lowercase) when words are placed onto the slate. As usual, follow this with an exclamation point to indicate it should have a long-term effect. If you do not do this, and the default setting prevails, then letters matched by blanks are placed onto the slate as lowercase. How they look in the workspace is a separate question over which you have control. If you want these blanks to show as lowercase on the printed page, then do not perform the /-LB command, but do perform the /-LC command to display these blank-matched letters as lowercase (rather that in color) in the workspace. In this way, the look of the workspace matches the printed output.

Further details on this subject can be found in the "Case of Letters in Query Output" section of the "WHAT User Guide".

3.2.2  All Threes Densely Packed

To output all the threes, showing all their hook letters, use the following command to present these in rows with one space as separator:

   3. <> /OR1S /CW
If you want two spaces for separation, you would include the subcommand /OR2S instead of /OR1S. It is easiest to the GUI to help you formulate such layout subcommands. Go to the Layout section of the Presentation tab. If you do not recall how to ask for hooks to be included in the presented output, also on the Presentation tab, check the Front Hooks and Back Hooks boxes. The /CW subcommand is to clear the workspace in preparation for you to then print it. The GUI can be used to supply this subcommand by menu-picking File→Clear→Workspace (via subcommand). When you press the Enter key to perform the above command, you are then shown a Large Slate Presentation Dialog since you are outputting more than 500 words. Click on the Show All Items button to output all the threes to the workspace. Then to print it, use a command indicating your choice of a title to appear in the header on each printed page, such as:
   /"All Threes and Their Hooks"
If you do not recall the syntax of this command, menu-pick File→Print Workspace...; it will help you produce the above command on the command line in the workspace. When you have this command on your command line, press the Enter key to perform it, and you are then shown a Print Dialog, where you can change some settings, but if you want to print one copy, you should just click the OK button. Pressing the Enter key has the same effect.

3.2.3  All Threes Loosely Packed

To make a presentation of all the threes in columns, be sure you have set a page length, as described above. Then, this is the command to present all the threes:

   3. <> /OC1S

3.2.4  All Fours Based on Threes

There are at least two scenarios that can be used to produce the fours that contain a three either in letters 1-3 or 2-4: either start with threes and add hooks, or start with fours and retain only those with 3-letter subwords. The first method is probably more intuitive, but both methods are presented here to provide more examples from which to learn the style of WHAT use. The first method has the advantage of producing output that shows hook letters in lowercase.

To print the 3045 fours based on threes all in uppercase in rows using one space of separation, follow either of the above scenarios and then present the slate in a cleared workspace with this command:

   /CW /OR1S
and then issue a print command with your choice of title.

3.2.5  All Fours Based on Threes Showing Hook Letters

When you want to print the 3045 fours that are based on threes showing hook letters in lowercase, you should use the first method described in the previous section, but do not raise the case of letters with that optional command mentioned there. To print these in rows using two spaces of separation, present the slate in a cleared workspace with this command:

   /CW /OR2S
and then issue a print command with your choice of title.

3.2.6  All Fours Based on Threes Showing Unhooks

To print the 3045 fours that are based on threes showing the hook letters with a prefix or suffix or a minus sign, present the slate in a cleared workspace with this command:

   /CW ` /OR2S
and then issue a print command with your choice of title. That command character in the middle, which is the back-quote, signifies you want to include unhook indicators in the presentation.

3.2.7  All Fours Based on Threes Showing Hook Letters and Unhooks

If you want to print the 3045 fours that are based on threes showing both the hook letters in lowercase and prefix/suffix minus signs too, use the first method described in the earlier section "All Fours Based on Threes", but do not raise the case of letters with that optional command mentioned there. If you want a spacing of one space, present the slate in a cleared workspace with this command:

   /CW ` /OR1S
and then issue a print command with your choice of title.

3.2.7  All the Fours and Unhooks

When the many options were mentioned for how you might want to produce study lists (in the section "Preparing Printed Lists") one of those options was for printing all 4214 fours, showing unhooks. Here is the command to present the slate in a cleared workspace:

   /CW ` /OR2S 4.
Then, issue a print command with your choice of title.

3.2.8  All Fours Based on Threes with Unhooks and Definitions

If you want to print the 3045 fours that are based on threes showing both the prefix/suffix minus signs to indicate unhooks and also each word's definition, use either method described in the earlier section "All Fours Based on Threes" to collect the fours. Present the slate in a cleared workspace with this command:

   /CW ` "
and then issue a print command with your choice of title.

3.2.9  All Fours Based on Threes with Anagrams

If you want to print the 3045 fours that are based on threes showing anagrams of each word, use either method described in the earlier section "All Fours Based on Threes" to collect the fours. If you want the words in packed rows with a spacing of two spaces, present the slate in a cleared workspace with this command:

   /CW /OR2S )
and then issue a print command with your choice of title.

4.  Studying Interactively

The above descriptions have been for producing printed pages for off-line study. WHAT can also be used interactively. You could work with a limited number of fours based on threes at a time. For example, you set up wordlist 4 with the 3045 fours that are based on threes. If you intend to show unhooks, then merge into wordlist 4 all the threes. Then you could look at groups of these words that can fit in the visible workspace simultaneously. One specific way is to look at all the candidate fours that start with a specific letter. Except for those that start with S, these will fit within view when using the default presentation of 9-character columns and with a workspace window size of 24 rows by 72 columns. The S words fit when 6-character columns are used. To see, for example, the words that start with C, perform this command:

The command constituent /4I indicates that wordlist 4 is to be as the word source. The WHAT GUI can help you formulate this part of your command; see the Word Source box at the top of the Query tab.

Had you included a back quote (`) in your query to also see the unhooks, then wordlist 4 would also be used as the word source where the possible threes are being sought. Without the threes in wordlist 4, it would appear as if there were no unhooks.

4.1  Quizzing Yourself

Using the flashcarding facilities of WHAT you can set up an environment where you can work interactively to learn the fours that can be made from hooked threes.

The following is written with the expectation that you already know about WHAT flashcarding in general. To learn about how to make flashcards and present them, read the "WHAT Flashcarding" tutorial.

First choose a group of threes for which you want to quiz yourself. Put these into a wordlist, such as wordlist 3. Perhaps you would start with those threes that begin with a letter between A and D. One way to do this is with this command:

   (A-D).. \ /3W
that tells you how many threes you are getting, as the wordlist is saved.

First use this command (with two subcommands) to turn off the usual presentation of all words on the slate and set the query kind to patterns:

   \! /P!
Before starting the flashcarding you may want to set up a command sequence on a function key, such as F12. Menu-pick Edit→Function Keys... to do this. Check the "Execute Cmd" box so that command is executed when the function key is pressed. Here are two good choices for the command: Start doing sequential flashcarding using wordlist 3 with this command:
You are then shown the first three. Since you set the long-term presentation to showing nothing, you will then see a prompt for your next command. You can think about what may be the hooks for the presented three. If you want to see the entire answer, press F12. You could instead make other related or unrelated queries, but remember that the long-term presentation is to show nothing, so you should include an apostrophe to see words in a presentation. It may make more sense to avoid the automatic command execution of your command at F12, and then you can augment a partial command by pressing F12 and then typing other command parts, such as a number sign so you see how many fours there are that can be formed from that three.

When making a related query you can use the caret (^), which is interpreted as a copy of the previous command, and that command is the three from the flashcard. You can use the F command to bring back the same flashcard. The N command advances you to the next flashcard.

This introductory material should be sufficient for you to make effective use of the facilities of WHAT to make study lists. All of the features of this powerful program are described in the "WHAT User Guide".