Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Everyday English 1

3.3 Memory aids

One way to remember how to spell a word is to find something in the word itself that makes it memorable. In the examples below, note how the letters in bold type can help you remember how to spell the word.

Ways of remembering some spellings

Separate – Pull apart (to pull things apart is to separate them)

Stationery – Paper (paper is one sort of stationery); or an envelope is an item of stationery

Stationary – Car (when a car is not moving it is stationary)

Accommodation – two cots and two mattresses

Secretary – a good secretary keeps a secret

February – brrrrrr it’s cold in February

Necessary – one collar, two sleeves

Another way of remembering spelling is by associating each letter with a word.

For example, here’s one way of remembering how to spell ‘necessary’:

Never Eat Cake Eat Salmon Sandwiches And Remain Young

Even just thinking of cake and salmon sandwiches should help you remember that the word has one c and two ss.

Here’s one for rhythm:

Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving.

And because:

Big Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Exits.

Activity 15 Word play

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

You might know ways of remembering how other tricky words are spelt. If so, make a note of them in the box below.

Then choose one of the words you identified earlier that you find difficult to spell. See if you can make up some word play to remember it.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


There are at least two other good examples for necessary:

the cesspool in the middle

the shirt prompt for the c and the ss - one collar, two sleeves.

If you can make up your own rhymes or prompts for the words you struggle to spell, you are far more likely to remember them. This is a flexible and fun way to remember correct spellings.


If a word is very long you can break it down into small chunks like this:

Environment: Env – iron – ment.

Then remember that there is an ‘iron’ in the middle!


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371