Mnemonics - tricks for tricky spellings

There’s one BIG problem with writing about spelling … everyone is waiting for you to make spelling mistakes. And they love to tell you when you do!

So I have to be really careful. But there are some words that I have problems spelling, like:

rhythm, weird, broccoli, graffiti

So I’ve had to find ways to remember these using mnemonics (little tricks to help you remember something).

Rhythm: Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move

Weird: You probably know that spelling ‘rule’ : ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’. It’s a is a rubbish rule, as there are so many exceptions (eight, weight, height, seize, beige, caffeine, society, science, ancient …) but I always remember that ‘weird’ doesn’t follow the rule because it’s… weird.

Broccoli: Two ‘c’s and one ‘l’? Or one ‘c’ and two ‘l’s? I found a way to remember. The ‘occo’ in the middle of the word looks a bit like the little round things that make up the top of a broccoli floret . You may have to squint to see it, but, hey, it works for me.

Graffiti: Two ‘f’s or two ‘t’s? I have a way to remember this too, but I’m not going to tell you because it’s rude!

To make mnemonics really memorable they are best if they are:
Personalised – what will help you remember
Amusing – if it makes you laugh you’ll remember
Meaningful – it means something to you
Pictorial – it should create a picture in your mind
Easy to remember – not too complicated
Rude – this really helps.

In other words, PAMPER yourself with mnemonics. You’re worth it!

Do you have any spelling mnemonics to share? If so, leave a comment.

Want to know more about teaching spelling? Go to


  1. There is an art to good mnemonics. I like the idea of "Amusing, Pictorial & Rude". I would add: It helps if the mnemonic has some relevance to the thing remembered.

    I find that a good mnemonic often has a triangular structure to it. The spelling and the word are linked by a memorable image or ditty of some sort. The Russian for elephant is 'clon': I remember this by 'putting' an elephant in Sloane Square [a square in London] thereby forming a link between the two. I find that mnemonics that don't have this linking image [to make a triangle] are less memorable. The mnemonic strategy of making the words an acronym [Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move] is also good provided it makes this image that links between the word and its spelling.

    My favourite is: Dash In A Rush, Running Hard, Or Else Accident! I haven't found a good one for 'rhyme' yet.

    Of course we could save us the trouble and agree to write something like 'rithum' 'rime' and 'diarea'.

  2. NJH, I absolutely agree with you that the mnemonic is best if it means something related to the word itself. (Well, for spelling anyway. I don't seem to have any problem remembering Richard of York Gained Battle In Vain - for colours of the rainbow - though what it's got to do with rainbows I have no idea!).

    I have a very similar one for 'diarrhoea': "Dash In A Real Rush, Hurry Or Else Accident". I always remember it as it's so graphic and funny (when you haven't got diarrhoea you forget the condition isn't funny in the least!).

    How about "Rhyme Helps You Memorise Endings"?

  3. Here are some more:

    stationAry is pArked cArs stationEry is Envelopes and pEns

    One Coat Two, Sleeves: 'necessary'

    You always want more dessert so add an extra s to desert to get dessert.

  4. I really like that one for 'stationery' and 'stationary'.