The Sounds

  • 0 – Z, S, soft C
  • 1 – T, D, TH
  • 2 – N
  • 3 – M
  • 4 – R
  • 5 – L
  • 6 – J, CH, SH, soft G
  • 7 – K, Q, hard C, hard G
  • 8 – F, V, PH
  • 9 – P, B

Translating Numbers to Words

Before you can memorize and recall a number, you first have to translate it into the words that you will memorize. This can be fun, and there’s some room for creativity, because there may be many words that can represent any number.

Say you need to memorize the number 14. (Sure, it’s a short number, but we’ll start with it to practice.) If a word is to represent 14 then its first consonant sound has to be T, D, or TH. The second and last consonant sound must be an R. Now say the consonant sounds together, “TR…DR…THR,” and think of a word that they make.

You might have come up with any of the following: tire, tree, tower, door, Drew, deer, udder, throw, or Heather. If you grew up in the 80's then you might have thought of Atari. Any of these words represent the number 14.

Also, don’t forget that the words do not have to start with T, D, or TH and end with R; these only have to be the first and last consonant sounds. So the words water, waiter, doorway, throwaway, even diarrhea, can all be used to memorize the number 14.

Below are some more examples of translating numbers into words. Keep in mind that there are many other words that could be used in addition to those listed.

Number Word(s)
75 coal, clue, cola, eagle, glue, goal, keyhole, koala, quill, ugly
29 bean, bin, bone, bun, bunny, open, pan, pawn, pen, penny, piano
63 chime, gem, jam, Jim, shame
491 robot, rowboat, warped, robbed, rabbit
75214 calendar, colander
14265 tarantula, torrential
8426840 french fries

Common Pitfalls

Be careful to not choose words that have unnecessary consonant sounds in them. When finding a word for 14, it’s easy to say to yourself, “DR…DR…dirt!”, which has an extra T sound. When you pick a word go back and make sure that it translates into exactly the same numbers that you started with.

Along the same lines, don’t think that a word represents more numbers than it actually does. This happens sometimes due to the spelling of the word. An example is the word lamb—it seems like it translates to 139, but since the “b” is silent, it only represents 13. To avoid making this mistake be sure to only think about the sounds a word makes, not how it’s spelled.