English Vowel Mnemonic

rogersgeorge on December 23rd, 2016


Mnemonics¬†(don’t pronounce the first m) are things you say to help you remember something. Like “every good boy does fine” and “f-a-c-e” for the lines and spaces of the treble musical staff. (The bass clef uses “good boys do fine always” and the name of an Indian chief, “egbdf.” Say them fast; they sound like a 1940’s pronunciation of an imaginary Indian name.

Do you remember the mnemonic for how to spell “arithmetic”? How about for the names of the bones of the wrist, or the cranial nerves? Other languages have mnemonics, too. In Hebrew, for example, a phrase translating “the evil brother” consists of all the laryngeal consonants.

All that to say I learned of one for the English vowels:

Who would know aught of art, must learn, act, then take his ease.

If you’re a native speaker of English, you should be able to identify these. Do you know the name for the vowel sound in “of”? It’s called the schwa, and it’s English’s rest vowel, what you say when you are thinking about what to say next, and your speech teacher tried to teach you never to say at all, uh.

If you really want to dig into the phonetics of English vowels, try tackling this article:


I invite you to post your favorite mnemonic in the comments.

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2 Responses to “English Vowel Mnemonic”

  1. Your bass clef spaces are completely wrong – ACEG. I don’t know whereabouts you are, but in Britain everyone over a certain age learned Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Good Boys Deserve Favour Always for the treble and bass clef lines. I’ve always thought these are too similar and confuse the learner; nowadays younger children don’t know what “favour” means anyway, so I now teach Every Green Bus Drives Fast for the treble clef lines, FACE for the treble clef spaces, and for the bass clef you have to remember two animals – Great Big Dogs Frighten Auntie for the lines and All Cows Eat Grass for the spaces.

  2. And while we’re on the subject, don’t forget the order of sharps and flats in key signatures. Sharps = Father Christmas Goes Down And Eats Buns. Flats = Billy Eats A Dozen Ginger Cakes Frequently.


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