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Being an Italian native speaker, I sometimes write ate when I should have written hate, and vice versa.

Is there a mnemonic I could use to remember when I should write ate, and when hate?

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I think, you should give us a hint. Since Italian has no glottal consonants, how the children are taught in schools to pronounce them? – bytebuster Jan 24 '13 at 14:40
In the case of house the pronunciation is probably compared to the one of casa ("house") in Tuscan. (Tuscan is particular, as c in casa is not pronounced [k].) – kiamlaluno Jan 24 '13 at 17:11
Heh, this is a perfect question for this site. As a native speaker, my first reaction was "why on earth would anyone ever confuse these two words? In what alien universe do they sound interchangeable?" But then I realized that some dialects/languages don't use the 'h' sound. – Martha Jan 24 '13 at 17:17
@Martha When I went to elementary school, the h was called the silent letter. That says all. ;) – kiamlaluno Jan 24 '13 at 17:23
(offtopic mode on) @Martha Some languages have up to eight velar/uvular/epiglottal/glottal consonant sounds. For an English speaker, they all sound between /k/ and /h/. – bytebuster Jan 24 '13 at 17:38
up vote 4 down vote accepted

There isn't a well known mnemonic, I think because it's not usually a cause of confusion to native listeners. To help, I'd suggest the following:

  • ate is an anagram of eat

  • hate is tattooed on the fingers of one fist, love is tattooed on the other (if you're a biker, seaman, etc).

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you almost had a mnemonic there...ate is anagram of eat, hate is an anagram of heat... hmm... if you don't pronounce the 'h' in either case that would still be a problem, wouldn't it? – Mitch Jan 24 '13 at 15:00
"There isn't a mnemonic..." Uh, sure there is. There are several provided as answers here (including your own). – Flimzy Jan 24 '13 at 19:27
The first is much more helpful. Once I remember when to write ate, I remember also when to write hate. – kiamlaluno Feb 4 '13 at 14:59

Self Composed?

These are self-composed mnemonics.

When hate hated itself, it ate the h.


I hate pronouncing h, so I ate it.

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Sounds good! What about some improvement? "I hate pronouncing /h/, so I ate it" – bytebuster Jan 24 '13 at 17:56
Awesome! I'll add that. – Siddhartha Jan 24 '13 at 17:57

Well, try to think of "ate" as "hate" with the "H" eaten.

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