BUILDYOURMEMORY.COM / A mnemonics and memory improvement resource
Mnemonics and memory / Build Your Memory
roman room statue

How memory operates
Why we forget
Observation and memory
Using mnemonics to link together memories
Mnemonics to master a foreign language
Mnemonics to remember numbers - The number/rhyme system
Mnemonics to remember your dreams
Advanced number mnemonics - Pegging
Mnemonics for quotations
Mnemonics to remember abstract symbols and letters
The Roman Room or journey system
Mnemonics to remember names and faces
Mnemonics for rememberring appointments - The Mental Diary
How to combine the systems - The Mental Database


How to remember quotations

How many times have you read through an interesting passage in a book, or an amusing quotation in a newspaper, and thought to yourself – ‘that makes sense, I’ll remember that.’

If you are like most people, then I would think that the answer is probably many times. The next question then is how many times can you accurately recall the passage or quotation concerned, after a moderate interval of time has passed by? The problem is that recalling any reasonably long piece of text is for most people not an easy task.

The purpose of this section of the site is to describe a method, which will make remembering a passage or piece of dialogue, whether from a book, newspaper, or even from the TV or radio, a relatively simple thing to do.

I will now outline the details of this method.

The method

The Tempest. Act IV. Scene I.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

The above quotation from William Shakespear's ‘The Tempest’ is one of my favourites. So I think that the best way for me to explain the details of this system, is to demonstrate it on this text.
The first thing that you need to do in order to memorise this quotation, is to take the key words from the passage. That is the words that contain the essence of the passage.

These are – we, stuff, dreams, made, little, life, round and finally sleep.

Now these eight key words are the only words that you really need to memorise, in order to remember the whole quotation. Once you have memorised these words, and read through the quote a couple of times, you should find that the rest of the words will just fall into their respective places.

To remember the key words, all that is necessary is for you to form a series of mental images that link these words together. For example, you could link together the first three words – we, stuff and dreams, by simply imagining yourself stuffing a pot of tea (tea rhymes with we), full of dreams. To visualise these dreams, you might try imagining thousands of tiny z’s.

This is of course just a suggestion. That is it is an image that works for me. However by all means, if you can think of an image of your own that you think would work better, then please feel free to do so. After all the act of thinking of your own image does make the links more personnel to you, and thus a great deal stronger.

The stronger a link is, the easier it is to recall!

The next thing that you need to do is to link together the words – made, little and life. To do this, you might try visualising a tiny (little) lifeguard (life), with a huge made in England label hanging around his neck.
Silly I know! But once you see this image, it should stay in your memory and more importantly be easy to recollect. Finally to link together the last two words – round and sleep, you could try visualising yourself asleep on an enormous, round bed.

Once you have constructed the above links, go through the collection of images again. Making sure that you see (in your minds eye) every detail. After doing this, read quickly through the passage one more time. You should then find that the quotation is committed to your memory.

To recall the quotation, all that is required is for you to bring the first of your key images to mind. Then to work your way through the rest of your images. You should find that the words that are not represented in your key images will fall into their respective places, just as soon as you recall the order of your key images.

In order to prevent you from forgetting the first of your key images, you might try linking it to a specific object, or peg number (refer to linking if you are unsure about the technique known as pegging). If you do this, then you should find that whenever you think of that particular object or peg number, all of your key images (and thus the quotation), will immediately spring to mind.

Alexander Smith

A mans real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.

The above quotation by Alexander Smith, is another one of my favourites. One that I long age committed to memory. For you to do so, all that you need to do, is to link together the seven key words of the quotation.

These are – mans, possession, memory, nothing, rich, nothing and poor.

To do this I would suggest that you try visualising an image of man. Say the biblical figure of Adam, clutching a valued possession. This man has a comic book memory bubble hovering above his head. In which you can see an image of yourself, dressed up in the most expensive clothing. Next to which is standing another image of you. This time however you are dressed in rags. Poor and destitute!

This rather comical image should bring to mind the above quotation. At least it does to me. But as always, if you can think of a set of images that works better for you, then use them. Mnemonics are very personal things.


To err is human, to forgive divine.

Pope was a man that over the years wrote many words of wisdom. A few more of which I have jotted down at the end of this section of the site. But for now I will show you how to remember this particular quotation.

First of all the keywords of this quotation are – err, human, forgive and divine. To link these words together, you could imagine the Pope with a thick, flowing, long head of hair. The Pope is sat in the confessional box, in the process of forgiving a sinner. The forgiven man then sprouts a pair of wings and rises into the sky, thus indicating the word divine.

‘Well it works for me anyway.’

Woody Allen

I am not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

The above quote is a short amusing one, from the pen of Woody Allen, and should not require much effort to memorise. But if you wish to retain the memory for any length of time, in a form that is easy to recall. Then I suggest that you commit to your memory the key words of the quotation. These are – I, not, afraid, death, don’t and happens.

I will leave it up to you to choose exactly how you wish to link these words together. However using the methods outlined in this section, you should find that this task will not present you with a great deal of difficulty.

If you would like a little more practice at your newly acquired ability to memorise quotations of all kinds, then you might like to test yourself on some of the quotations listed below. These quotations will (I sincerely hope) provide as much amusement for you, as they continue to do for me.

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