Some English words are notoriously difficult to spell, even for native speakers. Often it’s because there are two very similar words and we get them muddled – affect or effect, practise or practice. Memory devices, or mnemonics like those used to remember things in the correct order – Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain for the colours of the rainbow, for example (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) or My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos for the planets of the solar system (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune [Pluto was recently demoted, and is no longer considered a planet]) – can be very helpful.
Even those of us who write every day have our own bugbears, though, and mine has always been stationary versus stationery. I’m not above the odd typo(!), but with that one, when I get it wrong, it’s because I’m guessing. Someone told me a very simple device for getting it right the other day though – cars are stationary, paper is stationery; no more excuses. Is there one particular memory device that’s helped you or your students?Email this Post