Mnemonic Weekly Tip: # 28          April 7, 2003
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The Problem
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The spelling of since, sincere, and sincerely can be problematic for individuals who are weak spellers.   The primary reason that these words are difficult to spell is because they are not used often unless the person is an avid letter writer.  The secondary reason that these words are confusing is a right/left discrimination problem that makes it difficult for the person to remember how to spell words that are similar. 

The Mnemonic: 

 The memory technique for the spelling of since, sincere, and sincerely is that of a sequence.  A sequence is a memory technique that links words together because of their similarities, allowing the person to remember all the words in a sequence.  By lining up the words sin, since, sincere, and sincerely, the person can see that the words since, sincere, and sincerely are similar and begin with the word sin.  The sequence for this set of words is sin followed by two letters added to each word. 

s i n                                         s i n

s i n c e                                  s i n   c e

s i n c e r e                             s i n   c e   r e

s i n c e r e l y                        s i n   c e   r e    l y

Whenever the person wants to write since, sincere, or sincerely, he or she adds two letters to each word in the sequence.  The following mnemonic clues can be use if the person needs techniques for remembering which two letters are added to each word.  In order to remember that ce is added to sin, the person can recall the word vice, since a vice is a sin.  By thinking that if you are sincere you are real, the person can remember the two letters re that are added to since.  Finally the person can add the adverb suffix, ly to sincere to get sincerely.

     A number of teachers and students have asked to have the Mnemonic Clue of the Week sent to them each week. If you would like to receive this service, send your e-mail address to  
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Richard Cooper