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10 Mnemonics to Help with Spelling Tricky Words


For the last month or so I’ve been sharing my favourite spelling mnemonics over on Twitter. Today, especially for those of you who don’t use Twitter, I’ve decided to round up some of them to share with you all. For more information on mnemonics, click here.

  1. The thing I struggle with most when it comes to spelling the word ‘necessary’ is keeping track of how many Cs and how many Ss the word has. To combat this (and I’m about to betray how English I am!), I think of how necessary a cup of tea is in ensuring I have a good day – and once I’ve got the image tea in my mind, I think the following: “The word 'ne[c]e[ss]ary' is spelt using one [c]up and two [s]ugars”. Some people, of course, come up with alternative tricks which cover the whole word, such as: [N]ever [E]at [C]risps, [Eat] [S]alad [S]andwiches [A]nd [R]emain [Y]oung.
  2. The hard thing part to remember in the word ‘separate’ is the middle section. I think of the following: “Spell 'sep[a]r[a]te' by separating the two [a]s with an [r]", but I know others who prefer to find smaller words within the middle part, such as ‘rat’ or ‘para’.
  3. Spelling the word ‘rhythm' is especially tricky as it uses no vowels! How about: [R]hythm [H]elps [Y]our [T]wo [H]ips [M]ove .
  4. If you get confused about when to use ‘affect’ and when to use ‘effect, try to remember that the word ‘affect’ describes an action, whereas ‘effect’ describes the end consequence.
  5. Embarrassed that you can't spell 'embarrass'? The hard part here is keeping track of the number of Rs and the number of Ss. Why not try remembering the following: “I go [r]eally [r]ed when my [s]ister [s]ings”.
  6. Laugh’ can be tricky because it isn’t spelt like it sounds. Perhaps the following will help: [L]augh [A]nd yo[U] [G]et [H]appy.
  7. If the ‘I before E, except after C, but only when it rhymes with ‘bee’’ mnemonic rhyme doesn’t work for you, try using the following the next time you need to spell ‘believe’ or ‘belief’: “Try not to be[lie]ve a [lie]”.
  8. And whilst we’re on liars, try using a similar trick the next time you can’t remember how to spell ‘familiar’: “That [liar] looks fami[liar]”.
  9. No list of mnemonics is complete without this classroom favourite method of spelling 'because': [b]ig [e]lephants [c]an [a]lways [u]nderstand [s]mall [e]lephants, but personally I will never forget getting my Macbeth homework back at secondary school with the teacher’s red ink all over my quote: “Oh, horrer, horrer, horrer!”. Now, if I’ve needed to spell the word ‘horror’, I always think of a shocked or scared emoticon (like this -> :-O ) to remind myself that the word is spelt with an ‘o’ and not an ‘e’.
  10. 'Special' is another annoying word that doesn't sound like how it’s spelt. Remember that the CIA have Spe[cia]l Agents to work out the tricky middle part of the word!

I hope you’ve found these mnemonics helpful – if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow us (@Spellzone) and search #DailyMnemonic to find more helpful little memory tricks. Say hello and we’ll follow back!

Avani Shah


02 Dec 2013
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