I before E and Other Rules of English

grammar ie How many of you remember the mnemonic we were taught in grade school, “i before e, except after c, and for in words like neighbor and weigh”? Here’s a really cute little sign someone posted to Facebook, and I just had to share it here!

That made me think – were there other little mnemonics that I had been taught, but maybe forgot?

There was one for remembering the names of the planets in our solar system. “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” So, the planets – in order – are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Similarly, I learned that the names of the Great Lakes spell “homes” – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. Of course, they are not listed in order in that one. Instead, from left to right, you should say, “She makes him eat oreos” to give you Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.

Oh, let’s not forget, “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosy.” That’s helped me more than all the other memory-aids, whether turning a lightbulb or a screw! It doesn’t always work with faucets, because every so often you get a dyslexic builder and the faucets are backwards.

There are seven simple “machines” that I had to learn for a science class once. “I like playing soccer with William.” The machines are inclined plane, lever, pulley, screw, wedge, wheel & axle.

Let us never forget that “Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk” so we can rattle off the order of classifications for a science quiz – Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

Or, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” to help us remember the order of operations in math – parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction.

Then there is the mnemonic to remember all the presidents from Washington to Lincoln… if I can remember how it goes! Washington’s Army Jogged Many Miles (that gets you Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. Or is it Monroe, then Madison? Well, at least you can get three out of five right.) But wait, there’s more! “And Jogged Very Hard to Philadelphia to Find Pretty British Ladies.” Okay… A = we already had Adams. Oh, yeah – his son, John Quincy Adamns. Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Bucchannen and Lincoln.

I don’t remember having to learn the difference between there and their – it was just something I learned. But I have heard it said that “here” is in “there” (place) but “heir” is in “their” (person).

My absolute favorite, though, is the song for learning the names of the months and how many days are in each. I can’t sing it for you, but I will share the words. Maybe you remember it, too!

“Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November.
All the rest
Have thirty-one.
Except that quite contrary
February, which has
Twenty-eight most of the time…
And in Leap Year twenty-nine!”

So what are your favorite memory tricks? I invite you to share them here, in the comments.

One comment

  1. blushingtahlia says:

    Yikes, the only one out of those I’d ever heard of was the month song, which I’ve sometimes used as well. So thank you for sharing!
    And the only other one I know which you didn’t mention, which was taught to me as a child to help learn directions, was ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’, while moving your hand clockwise in four ‘clock’ quarters. This gives you north, east, south and west, and where they all are on a compass. 🙂

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