I mentioned a technique in Confusables 4 and promised more explanation. Here it is now.

mnemonic /nɪˈmɒnɪk/ noun [C] is something that helps to remember something else. It can be a word, a poem, an image… and people have used it for this purpose since millennia ago in many subjects and in many forms. Even Plato and Aristotle have talked about it, and a recent survey claims that using mnemonic devices has increased the test scores of students up to 77%.

Let’s read some examples to find out more:


You want to learn the spectrum colours (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). You can remember the name ROY G BIV that uses the first letters of the colours. R for red, O for orange and so on. The sentence: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain does the same.


Or you want to learn the names of the seven continents (Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, Antarctica, North America). You can use the sentence:

Always Eat AApple, Says A Nurse!


Can you guess what this sentence refers to?

Lazy Cats Don’t Move.

(L, C, D, M, the major Roman numerals 50, 100, 500, 1000)


Here are more examples:

The sentence Every Good Boy Deserves Fun is used for the musical notes EGBDF on the lines.


Knuckle mnemonic, used for the number of days in each month, is very famous too.


The sentences:

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles

My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets

are used for the names of the planets in the solar system (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, [Pluto]).

These sentences do the same:

My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies.

The following one is very interesting because it has the recent correction in it too:

My Very Educated Mother Just Said Uh-oh! No Pluto!


The first 15 digits of the mathematical constant pi (3.14159265358979) can be seen in the sentence:

Now I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics;

where Now, with 3 letters represents 3, I is 1, need is 4, and so on.


Some people hold out both hands with fingers stretched out to calculate the multiples of 9 up to 9 × 10. Have you done it in childhood? Imagine! They look at their hands, not the calculator, for the answer to 9 × 6!


To remember taxonomy order in biology (Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, [Variety]):

Dear King Philip Come Over For Good Spaghetti/Soup

Do Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk?

Dumb Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach.


Dromedary is a kind of camel with one hump and its back looks like a D.

Bactrian is a kind of camel with two humps and its back looks like a B.


People make their own mnemonics too. Many years ago when I was teaching, I noticed that the beginner students, who learnt the two new words ear and eye in the same lesson, were confused which was which. I’d tell them to look at the word eye (especially when handwritten) and notice that it looked like a face with two eyes, the line of a nose, and even a mouth, and encouraged them to draw a face with it. The simple funny drawing game would prevent the confusion.

Or when I was very young and I wasn’t sure to write pigeon or pegion, I’d tell myself to pronounce the word and write what I heard. /ˈpɪdʒ.ən/ => pigeon

(Sadly though, I couldn’t do anything about to siege and to seize!)


Northern European countries from West to East (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia):

No Soup For Russia!


Countries located around the Adriatic Sea (in clockwise direction):

Incredibly Slimy Cockroach Bit My Aunt. (Italia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania)


For stalactite and stalagmite:

Stalactite hangs tight, stalagmite might bite (if you sit on them).


Colours of the Olympic Rings: Blue, Yellow, Red, Black, Green:

Bring Your Record Breaking Guy/Girl!


Coordinating conjunctions in English:

FANBOY (for, and, nor, but, or, yet)


French consonants that are pronounced at the end of some words are:

CaReFuL (c, r, f and l)


Given names (masculine and feminine):

Francis (him) and Frances (her)

(I don’t know French, so I’m not sure about these.)


Everybody has heard this one:

When it says ee

Put i before e

But not after c


Some spelling mnemonics:

BECAUSE
Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ARITHMETIC
A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

GEOGRAPHY
George’s Elderly Old Grandfather Rode A Pig Home Yesterday

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

RHYTHM
Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

NECESSARY
Not Every Cat Eats Sardines (Some Are Really Yummy)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

POTASSIUM

Just remember one tea, two sugars

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Do not believe a lie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

secretary must keep a secret

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Every teacher has an ache!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Be sure of your measurements before you start work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Fri the end of your friend!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The CIA has special agents.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Here or Hear

We hear with our ear.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

complement adds something to make it enough

compliment puts you in the limelight

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Your principal is your pal

A rule can be called a principle

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Diarrh(o)ea Is A Really Runny Heap (of) Endless Amounts

(Clever! It has both spellings in it!)


Have you ever used mnemonics before?

Have you ever made one for yourself?

Share them with us.

And if you want to google mnemonic, remember the sentence:

Memory Needs Every Method Of Nurturing Its Capacity!