Creating mnemonic devices for simple lists of information that you need to memorize can be a pretty easy task, but what happens if you have to memorize a list of information that may be quite a bit longer, lacking in words starting with vowels and must stay in order for that information to retain its usefulness. Often times, a basic word forming mnemonic device simply will not work for such information – requiring you to use another form of mnemonics which will allow you to create a phrase instead.
Now, depending on how your mind works, coming up with a phrase may be a bit more difficult than coming up with a word as your mnemonic device. Personally, I find it far easier to make a phrase, sentence or poem as a mnemonic device than I do to make a word. After all, words have to follow specific rules. They have to have consonants, vowels and actually make a bit of sense.
On the other hand, if you create your own phrase style mnemonic device, the skies are the limit and you have full creative freedom to make whatever mnemonic device you see fit – no matter how off the wall it may sound to someone else.
When would you need to come up with a phrase style mnemonic device? Well, as mentioned earlier, a phrase style mnemonic device can be used whenever a word forming style mnemonic device is used but they especially come in handy during three special circumstances: when the information you need to memorize has to be in order for it to be useful, when you have an exceptionally long list of information that would be impractical to quickly turn into a word, and when the information that you need to memorize consists of many of the same letters – making it impossible to form a coherent word with the necessary data.
Let us begin our quest for the perfect phrase forming style mnemonic device by going back to our example with the Great Lakes. You already know that you can use the names of the Great Lakes to create a word forming style mnemonic device – HOMES, but what if you have to remember the Great Lakes in a specific order. For example, let us assume that you are taking a geography class and your teacher tells you that on the test you will have to memorize the Great Lakes in order from West to East.
Now, in this case, your previously created mnemonic device of HOMES will not be useful at all because the lakes are not in order from West to East under that acronym. Instead, you should create a phrase style mnemonic device that will allow you to remember the names of the Great Lakes from West to East. So you do not have to look them up, here is the order in which they should go:
Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario
Chances are that you probably did not have a very difficult time coming up with your own phrase to remember this information. Unlike word forming mnemonic devices, when it comes to making a phrase, there is not usually a generally accepted phrase that every person uses to remember the information given.
That is the beauty of the phrase style mnemonic device – it can be anything that you want it to be. For the Great Lakes in order from West to East, I could come up with She Made Him Eat Olives or even something like Sally Massages Harry’s Ears Often. The possibilities are truly endless when you consider all of the different ways to convert the Great Lakes in this order into a phrase forming style mnemonic device.
Moving right along, the second time you should consider using a phrase forming mnemonic device is when you have a list of information with letters that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot turn into a word style mnemonic to memorize. Now, that very statement contradicts what a good mnemonic should be – you should always try to keep your mnemonic devices simple and easy.
If you are thinking about them too much then they are not a good mnemonic.
The planets of our solar system present us with a perfect place to practice the phrase forming style of mnemonic devices. Now that Pluto is no longer recognized as a planet, there are only eight planets to remember, but that does not mean that you cannot use a phrase style mnemonic device to do so. Let’s try out with an example. In case you do not remember what the planets are, here is a list to help you get started:
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
This bit of information would be impossible to memorize without the help of a phrase forming style mnemonic device. After all, what kind of word could you hope to create with the first letters from the words of the planets in our solar system? It certainly would not be anything recognizable or easily memorized.
In fact, you could probably directly memorize the planets in the solar system before you could even hope to memorize a word that you would have created with their first letters. As with the names of the Great Lakes, whatever you choose to create is totally up to you, but to keep you on the right track, one of the most popular mnemonic devices for the planets of our solar system is: My Very Efficient Monkey Just Sorted Unused Napkins.
Finally, we have the third reason that you would want to create a phrase forming style mnemonic device instead of a word style mnemonic device – you have a list of information that you need to memorize that is just too long to create a word quickly and easily.
Our example this time comes from the metric system of measurement, which we may all have to memorize should the United States ever convert our system of measurement away from archaic inches and pounds into the more practical system of measuring meters and grams.
Thoughts on the metric system aside, imagine you have to memorize all of the prefixes that are used to represent amounts that are more than one and less than one. The prefixes are listed below for your ease of viewing:
Exa, Peta, Tera, Giga, Mega, Kilo, Hecto, Deca
Deci, Centi, Milli, Micro, Nano, Pico, Femto, Atto
Now, as you can see, these lists are far too long to make any useful word style mnemonic devices out of. You could spend hours looking at them and probably never come up with a word that could easily suit them. So, realizing this, you should instead turn to the phrase forming style mnemonic device which will allow you to use the first letter from each word to create your own clever quip that will help you remember the prefixes for the metric system.
As with all other phrase style mnemonic devices, there is no right or wrong answer here, but just in case you are stuck – here are some of the more commonly used mnemonic device phrases to help you out. For the amounts greater than one, a commonly used mnemonic phrase is: Every Person That Gave Me Kisses Has Diarrhea. And for the prefixes that are used for amounts which are less than one, a common phrase is: Dairy Cows Make Milk, Not Pink Fruit, Andrew.
Just to make sure that you are on the right track when it comes to your phrase forming mnemonic devices, how about a little test here to see if you know what you are doing. Let us go to the field of geology for this example.
Say that after watching the latest Indiana Jones movie, you decide that you want to take some classes in archaeology and geology, so you enroll at your local college and find that you have to memorize all kinds of information.
One such topic that you will probably come across is the scale of mineral hardness which includes a relatively long list of different types of rocks.
Talc, Gypsum, Calcite, Fluorite, Apatite, Orthoclase, Quartz, Topaz, Corundum, Diamond
At first glance, this list looks impossible to memorize. It is far too long, filled with a mixture of different rocks which cannot easily be turned into a word forming style mnemonic device and must all stay in order for it to be useful to you. After all, if you were to rearrange the list to make a word and diamond happens to come near talc, you would miss many questions on your test because those two types of rock are nothing alike.
So, in order to effectively memorize this list of mineral hardness, a phrase forming style mnemonic device is totally necessary. Go ahead and come up with something. I will wait right here until you are done.
Finished? Great work.
Now, just in case you were unable to think of anything, here is an example that has been used by geology students for quite some time: Tall Gypsies Can Fight And Order Queens To Carry Diamonds.Multi-Page