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Mnemonics in TEFL

Pronouns are words which can be used in place of nouns in a sentence‏‎. For example:

William took the ball and then William kicked the ball.

becomes, with pronouns:

William took the ball and then he kicked it.

For more, see Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar.

Verbs tell us about an action; they are sometimes called doing words or action words. Verbs describe what is happening:

run, walk, read, talk

For more, see Verbs‏‎ in English Grammar,

A Noun is a major part of speech; a good, general, definition of a noun is that it is something which is used to name an object or thing:

car, door, elephant...

For more, see Nouns in English Grammar.

Parts of Speech (often abbreviated to PoS and sometimes known as Word Classes) are the different categories of words‎ in English. They refer to the way in which those words are used grammatically.

Common PoS include adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs and so on.

For more on this, see Parts of Speech in English Grammar.

Adverbs tell us more about nouns or verbs, etc.

Adverbs of Degree tell us how much: Is there enough wine?

Adverbs of Frequency tell us how often: I never eat meat.

Adverbs of Time tell us when: I saw him last Sunday.

Adverbs of Manner tell us how: She dances badly.

Adverbs of Place to tell us where: I saw him at the cinema.

For more, see Adverbs in English Grammar.

An Adjective is a word we use to describe a noun:

big, red, boring book

For more, see Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar.

Knotted string round a finger; mnemonics at work.Mnemonics (pronounced /nəˈmɒniks/ with a silent ‘m’ at the beginning) are short devices (sayings, poems, etc) used to remember longer, more complex ideas or lists (also known as aides memoires or memory aides).

Think of them as poetic versions of string tied around your finger to help remember something!

A good example of a first letter mnemonic is:

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

which is used to remember the colors of a rainbow in the order they appear:

  • Red (Richard)
  • Orange (of)
  • Yellow (York)
  • Green (gave)
  • Blue (battle)
  • Indigo (in)
  • Violet (vain)

Spelling Mnemonics

These are mnemonics to help learn the spelling of sometimes difficult words‏‎.

  • i before e except after c – although the rule is not very precise, it’s a good general rule for spelling.1
  • WE Do Not Eat Soup Day – wednesday
  • Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move Now – rhythmn
  • Not Every Cat Eats Sardines (Some Are Really Yummy) – necessary
  • To remember the start of beautiful: Big Elephants Are Ugly.
  • Mrs M, Mrs I, Mrs S S I, Mrs S S I, Mrs P P I – Mississippi

Grammar Mnemonics

The following are mnemonics for grammar‏‎ rules.

  • A cat has claws at the end of its paws. A comma’s a pause at the end of a clause‎.
  • OSASCOMP. Lists the order in which adjectives‏‎ should appear: Opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Colour, Origin, Material, Purpose; this is also On Saturday And Sunday Cold Ovens Make Pastry.
  • FANBOY are the coordinating conjunctions‏‎: for, and, nor, but, or, yet. Alternatively BOY SAT with BEN can produce: But, Or, Yet, So, And, Then, Both…and, Either…or, Neither…nor ).

* See the article, Adjective Order‏‎ for more on this.

Parts of Speech‏‎ in general are here:

Every name is called a NOUN,
As field and fountain, street and town;
In place of noun the PRONOUN‏‎ stands,
As he and she can clap their hands;
The ADJECTIVE‏‎ describes a thing,
As magic wand and bridal ring;
The VERB‏‎ means action, something done –
To read and write, to jump and run;
How things are done, the ADVERBS‏‎ tell,
As quickly, slowly, badly, well;
The PREPOSITION shows relation,
As in the street, or at the station;
CONJUNCTIONS‎ join, in many ways,
Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase;
The INTERJECTION‏‎ cries out, ‘Hark!
I need an exclamation mark!’
Through Poetry, we learn how each
of these make up the PARTS OF SPEECH.

Punctuation

For remembering that the quotation marks come after any other closing punctuation‏‎ marks: P then Q in the alphabet.

When to start a new paragraph can be remembered using the following mnemonic:

Four “T”s, a little writing rhyme
Of Topic, Territory, Talker, Time
When there’s a change in one of these
Start a new paragraph if you please.

Useful Links

1 This article on concordancing‏‎ examines the “i before e except after c” rule in more detail.

Image © The Doctr
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