Even if you’ve never heard of memory mnemonics before, you have almost certainly used them before. A mnemonic is just a simple phrase or rhyme that acts as an aid to memorizing something.
To use them, all you have to do is learn the rhyme or phrase and memorize how to apply it to remember whatever it is that you want to remember.
For example, the phrase, ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ can be turned into a mnemonic to remember the points of a compass.
- Never – North
- Eat – East
- Shredded – South
- Wheat – West
You can also remember how they appear in the compass by starting a 12 o’clock with North and then travelling clockwise, East is at the 3 o’clock position, South at 6 o’clock and West at 9 o’clock.
When you have memorized it this way, it is then very easy to recall.
Here are some common mnemonics examples to get you started
- Never Eat Shredded Wheat – this mnemonic is described above to help you remember the points of a compass.
- My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets – this mnemonic can be used to help you remember the order of the planets in our solar system. This mnemonic is slightly out of date (Pluto is no longer classed as a planet). If you want to learn alternative phrases for remembering the planets, you can have a look at my article ‘how to remember the planets’. In this mnemonic, each word corresponds to a particular planet, in the order that they appear from the Sun:
- My – Mercury
- Very – Venus
- Educated – Earth
- Mother – Mars
- Just – Jupiter
- Showed – Saturn
- Us – Uranus
- Nine – Neptune
- Planets – Pluto
- I before e, except after c – this mnemonic is a rhyme to help you remember how to spell words that have the letters ‘i’ and ‘e’ together, like ‘believe’. Naturally, with English being the language it is, there are a number of exceptions to this, like ‘neighbour’, so the following, longer, mnemonic can be used to catch them:
- I before e, except after c, or when sounded as ‘a’, as in ‘neighbour’ and ‘weigh’
- Another extremely common mnemonic is the rhyme to help you remember how many days there are in each month:
- Thirty days has September,
- April, June and November,
- All the rest have thirty-one,
- Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
- And twenty-nine each leap year
- As a Brit, this is the rhyme that I used to learn the colours of the rainbow, I have no idea if it is used anywhere else but here it is: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain
- Richard – Red
- Of – Orange
- York – Yellow
- Gave – Green
- Battle – Blue
- In – Indigo
- Vain – Violet
If you want to learn more mnemonics then there is an extensive list on wikipedia that you can have a look at for even more mnemonics examples.