I remember being taught to play the piano and being supplied with two mnemonic devices. The lines on the staff for the right hand could be remembered by Every Good Boy Does Fine(e,g,b,d,f). The white spaces spelled out FACE(f,a,c,e). I still call that tip to mind when I look at a new hymn on Sunday. Mnemonics exist to help our struggling memories over commonly forgotten facts.

A couple of tips in school have stayed with me for sixty years. The difference between principle and principal is that the principal can be your PAL. Desert and dessert have different numbers of the letter “s” because you only want to cross a desert once but you will always want two desserts. Most repeated, despite the handy feature of spell check, is “i before e except after c or sounded like a in neighbor or weigh.”

Theoretically names can be brought to mind more easily by inventing a personalized mnemonic. The idea is to take a person’s characteristic and link it to the person’s name. This has never worked for me, probably because I start laughing thinking up the trick. Let’s see: “he is a real pill and his name is Bill.” Not a good plan. However I am able to remember a man’s name I see every Sunday although I always start down the wrong path with it. His name is Angelo, but I keep thinking it is Anthony. A nearby restaurant is called Angelo’s, and now I struggle to think of the name of the place and then can think of his. Not a very quick trick for sure.

I would love to know any other mnemonics that my readers learned or still use. Until then, “a pint’s a pound the whole world round.”

18 thoughts on ““Mnemonic”

  1. We always had the ‘I before E except after C’. When I was learning to type faster, my Mum would make me type ‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog’. Not strictly a mnemonic, but useful on a keyboard. When I was training to be an EMT, we had many. One I recall was ‘Clip-G’, which we learned as a crib for ‘types of wounds’
    C Contused
    L Lacerated
    I Incised
    P Puncture
    G Gunshot

    Best wishes, Pete.


      1. We had a numerical one too, like a phone number. For the spinal bones. 🙂
        The human spinal column is made up of 33 bones – 7 vertebrae in the cervical region, 12 in the thoracic region, 5 in the lumbar region, 5 in the sacral region and 4 in the coccygeal region.


  2. The only one I recall is the one for remembering the ohm rating of resisters in electronics.


    Unfortunately the mnemonic is not repeatable.


  3. I learned the ones for the music scale in choir, including the base clef, All Cows Eat Grass – and Good Boys Do Fine Always. This still helps me as I’m learning piano as an adult. The other one I remember from childhood days is A Rat in the House Might Eat the Ice Cream (to spell arithmetic!) And finally, Pete reminded me of what we used to warm up in typing class, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” I can still type that pretty fast! 😉


  4. This post makes me grin😁. I, too, remember learning “Every Good Boy Does Fine” for piano scales. In the fifth grade my teacher told me that the way to remember how to distinguish “stationary”(not moving) from “stationery” (writing papers) was to remember the “e” in “letter” (for writing letters to someone). It sounds far-fetched now that I am trying to write about it, but I understood my teacher completely and have resorted to that mnemonic time and time again over the years.


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