How To Memorize the First 20 Elements On the Periodic Table

A mnemonic can help you associate the element symbols with words you can remember.

 Lawrence Lawry, Getty Images

If you take a chemistry class there is an excellent chance you will be required to memorize the names and order of the first few elements of the periodic table. Even if you don't have to memorize the elements for a grade, it is helpful to be able to recall that information rather than look it up every time you need it.

Memorize Using Mnemonic Devices

Here is a mnemonic you can use to help make the memorization process easier.

The symbols for the elements are associated with words that form a phrase. If you can remember the phrase and know the symbols for the elements then you can memorize the order of the elements.

Hi! - H
He - He
Lies - Li
Because - Be
Boys - B
Can - C
Not - N
Operate - O
Fireplaces - F

New - Ne
Nation - Na
Might - Mg
Also - Al
Sign - Si
Peace - P
Security - S
Clause - Cl

A - Ar
King - K
Can - Ca

List of the First 20 Elements

You can devise your own way of memorizing the first 20 elements. It may help to associate each element with a name or a word that makes sense to you. Here are the names and symbols of the first elements. The numbers are their atomic numbers, which is how many protons are in an atom of that element.

  1. Hydrogen - H
  2. Helium - He
  3. Lithium - Li
  4. Beryllium - Be
  5. Boron - B
  6. Carbon - C
  7. Nitrogen - N
  8. Oxygen - O
  9. Fluorine - F
  10. Neon - Ne
  11. Sodium - Na
  12. Magnesium - Mg
  13. Aluminum (or Aluminium) - Al
  14. Silicon - Si
  15. Phosphorus - P
  16. Sulfur - S
  1. Chlorine - Cl
  2. Argon - Ar
  3. Potassium - K
  4. Calcium - Ca