major system numbers

After studying the different memory systems - and there are quite a few variations, I decided to use the Major system to memorise numbers. This is one of the most commonly used and simple systems but it still took me a while to learn. If you aspire to become a Grand Master of Memory some experts recommend the PAO (Person - Action - Object) system. However, you can remember some extremely long numbers with the Major System quite happily without making things too complicated.

It is a case of just learning the chart below, note the tips to help you remember (there are variations) letter assignments. Each number has a consonant(s) assigned to it (if more than one it is because it makes a similar sound and mouth movement). A word is then created from the consonants using unassigned letters (mainly vowels) to fill the gaps. Its important to concentrate on the phonetic sounds of the letter.  The letter assignment is as follows:

Number Letter How to Remember - Sounds
Click here for additional notes on methods to remember number to letter assignments​
 0 s, z, soft c = sss  Zero =0 sss - sounds as in Sea, Zoo, aCe,
 1  t, d   -  sounds as in Tea, Doe
 2  n  - Turn Capital N on side it looks like a 2. - as in No.
 3  m  Turn on side it looks like a 3 - sounds as in Me.
 4  r  Sort of looks like a Capital R if tilted -sounds as in Row.
 5  l  L is roman numeral for 50 - sounds as in Low.
 6  sh, soft ch, j, soft g.  ? just remember it!- sounds as in Shoe, Chew, Jaw.
 7  k, hard c, hard g,     hard ch, q.  - sounds as in Key, Cow, Gate, aCHe, Queue.   
 8  f, v  ? just remember this too! -sounds as in Few, View.
9  p, b  Mirror image of 9 (b upside down) -sounds as in Bee, Pea.
Unassigned  Vowels, h, w, y.  - letters used as "fillers" to make words with the number consonants ie  rat =41  (r is 4   a is "filler"  t is 1). Notes

The words created for each number from 00 to 99 form your major number system. The way it works is to form images in your mind of each word you have created for each number. Now, before I explain further take a look at my major system click on link below:

Major Number system -  this never changes - CAT will always be number 71, LORRY is always 54,  now consider for a minute how your brain works........

If I say to you number 7154 you might visualise that number in your mind but the chances are you will forget it in hours or minutes; it doesn't really mean anything or relate to anything.

If I say to you "cat" chances are that you don't think of the letters C, A, T, you think of a fluffy creature with four legs, a tail and whiskers

If I say "lorry" chances are you think of a vehicle with wheels, a cab and a storage area.

Our brains are designed  to think and remember in the form of images.
Before numbers and words were invented we survived by acting on what was seen and heard and communicating through grunts, body language and games of charades!
Then humans got clever and invented ways to communicate and remember things requiring less brain power by using words, numbers and all the fan-dangled technology at our finger-tips today. We no-longer have to remember birthdays, dentist appointments, it's bin collection day.....why? Probably because you will get a reminder on your mobile or computer ........basically we have become "lazy brains"! When we have to remember without the use of our gadgets.......we try to remember in the basic form that man invented for us......words and numbers.......more often than not our memories fail us.  

That can change using the Major system by filing silly images in the grey matter between your ears!

If I say to you "I've just seen a cat driving a big lorry up the road" First of all I would suspect that you will get a pretty silly image in your mind of a cat driving a lorry up the road. Most importantly you would think  I was some sort of freaky nutter. But, every time you saw me you would be likely to remember that I was the freaky woman who thinks that cats can drive lorries!

This is the secret to memorising .....linking silly images together that you are unlikely to forget and placing them in a location/link in your memory. In this instance I am the location/link because every time you see me you will remember "cats driving lorries"!

So how does the Major System work in relation to our number 7154 and cat driving a lorry?
First we split the number into two digit numbers 71 and 54. Look at the chart above.

*Remember it is the sound that is important.....NOT the letter. 

  • The number 7 is assigned to k, hard c, hard g, hard ch, q. We are using hard c for the c in cat,
  • The a in cat is unassigned and only used as a "filler" to make up a word/image.
  • Look at the chart above. The number 1 is assigned to t, d. We are using t for the t in cat.
  •  C=(7)  a=(unassigned)   T=(1)            71 = cat.
  • repeat the process for 54.....
  • The number 5 is assigned to l. - l for the l in lorry.
  • The o in lorry is unassigned - a "filler".
  • Look at the chart above. The number 4 is assigned to  r - rr in lorry  y is unassigned. Double letters - see notes
  • L=(5)    o=(unassigned)     RR=(4)    y=(unassigned)      54 = lorry.

From what I can gather most people develop images for numbers from 00-99 and that image stays the same every time that number is used. I have learnt of memorists' who have mastered the phonetics of  the number/letter relationship so well that they can come up with a different image each time.....but the chances of me personally being able to do this are as likely as finding an elephant who can ballet dance! So click to see my Major system number to image assignment feel free to use! I store my major number system in my "House mind palace".
So there we have it two numbers assigned to two images - 7154 cat/lorry. by thinking of cat and lorry and the sounds they make we can revert them back to their assigned numbers 7154. However a cat and a lorry are unremarkable and unmemorable.......but a cat driving a big lorry is absurd and silly and much more likely to be remembered. We are linking the images together thus linking the numbers to make 7154.

Yet, where is that image/number in our brain? Just floating around in limbo.......until you see me, the nutty woman who thinks cats can drive lorries! I am the trigger for memory recall of  cat/lorry - 7154! That is why we need a location in our brain to recall that information like a filing system and why locations - method of loci (mind/memory palaces), link methods - stories, peg systems etc are vital to be able to file those images  and quickly recall them. 

My intention is to add much more information on how you can do this as I learn and I develop the site (remember I'm new to memory training). But for now I will give you an example, so you get the gist.I'm going to use a mind palace (my garage) this has to be a place you are very familiar with and can imagine walking through in a set direction (I tend to go left to right - top to bottom). I might decide I want to use my garage to recall a diary.

So first thing on the left hand side in my garage is a freezer. I will use this as my first locus(location - (plural - loci))to store an image. I want to remember a dental appointment at 11 o'clock on 03/06/17.

  • First I need to remind myself that it's a dental appointment so I might place a big set of dentures on the freezer - the more action, bigger and ridiculous the better.  These dentures are clasped around my DaD biting his head. (Try to keep the order you want to remember, dentist=dentures,  time 11 oclock =DaD (top to bottom). Dentures remind me it's a dental appointment and DaD, in my major system images, is 11 = dental appointment at 11.

For the Date of my appointment I go to next loci -my exercise bike.
Dad is waving frantically at:

  • SuMo wrestler who is riding my exercise bike (Next locus). He is wearing a big red SaSH tied in a bow around his waist. A DuCK is pecking at his feet as he peddles. In my major System images 03 = SuMo, 06 = SaSH and 17 = DuCK. Thus, 03/06/17.

The interaction between Dad waving at Sumo wrestler tell me the images are linked and refer to the same thing/date that I am trying to remember.
Next date in my "garage" diary:
At the back of the garage is a bench on it is a drill and a can of paint (left to right) these are my next two loci to remember it's Auntie Florence birthday on 22/03/17.

  • There is Auntie Florence standing on the bench singing Happy Birthday to Me while drilling a bit of wood onto the wall! She is in a NuN(22) outfit. Helping her is that SuMo(03) wrestler again - painting the garage wall, and that wretched DuCK(17) is drinking all the paint from the tin.

Yes it all sounds pretty potty! But it's difficult to forget when you go for a mental stroll through your garage to recall the dates you have stored there. 

It all looks really complicated and loads of information, but it isn't. Once you have mastered your major system, numbers to images it all becomes so easy and useful. You will be amazed at the amount of info you can remember using this method and how quickly you can recall it when needed. As a nurse I have all sorts of numbers I have to remember eg. normal blood parameters, door/cupboard codes, extension numbers....the list is endless and many of them can not be stored on mobile phones or written down because of security/confidentiality breeches. I have only started all this four months ago. I'm practising practising practising .....It's important to try and recall your major system on a daily basis, to begin with. Very quickly you will find that the information plants itself in your long-term memory and is just there like... A,B,C,D    1,2,3,4.

See how I have used mind/memory palace to recall information not related to numbers. 

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