People Like Things In Threes-Give ‘Em What They Like

Many people treat this idea of having things grouped in threes like it’s a natural law. I don’t believe that’s true. But for some reason, people like things in threes. I’ve compiled a list of 50 examples that have meant something to me:

  1. Apollo 11 (First landed on the Moon; Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins)
  2. Athos, Porthos, Aramis (Musketeers)
  3. Bacon, lettuce, tomato
  4. Bears (Goldilocks)
  5. Bed, bath, beyond
  6. Better, faster, cheaper
  7. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
  8. Blind mice
  9. Cheers
  10. Cream (the band; Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton)
  11. Destiny’s child (Sorry! Beyonce fan!)
  12. Dog Night (the band or a description of cold)
  13. Faith, hope, charity
  14. Forward/backward, left/right, up/down
  15. Gasper, Melchior, Balthasar (wise men)
  16. Gold, frankincense, myrrh (the gifts of the wise men)
  17. Golf balls in a sleeve
  18. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil
  19. Huey, Dewey, Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews)
  20. Judicial, Legislative, Executive (branches of U.S. Government)
  21. Knife, fork, spoon
  22. Lead, follow, get outta the way
  23. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
  24. Little pigs
  25. Moe, Larry, Curly (or Shemp)
  26. Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria (Chris Columbus’ ships)
  27. Of the people, by the people, for the people
  28. On the count of …
  29. On your mark, get set, go
  30. Opening, body and closing (an essay)
  31. Past, present, future
  32. Performance, status, forecast
  33. Readin’, ‘ritin’, ‘rithmetic
  34. Ready, aim, fire (order is important)
  35. Red, white, blue
  36. Rings in a circus
  37. Rock, paper, scissors (lizard, spock: “The Big Bang Theory”)
  38. Sheets to the wind
  39. Snap, crackle, pop
  40. Strikes and you’re out
  41. Tennis balls in a can
  42. The good, the bad, the ugly
  43. The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth
  44. Time’s the charm
  45. Trinity (not the girl in “The Matrix”)
  46. Up, up and away
  47. Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)
  48. Winken, blinken, nod
  49. Wishes
  50. Witches (Macbeth)

The important points are: 1) I do not know why things work this way, 2) things in threes are comfortable and familiar to most people, 3) given that they like it, why wouldn’t you give things to people in threes. NOTE: Three numbered items.

Yes, yes, I know the there are a bazillion things that don’t come in threes and are terrific. Three just seems to be a number of things that people can easily remember. Gosh, that sounds like a good, maybe GREAT thing. Knowing that, a smart writer, advertiser, or presenter would certainly leverage the idea to structure proposals, presentations, marketing, and advertising.

Stephen P. (Steve) Czerniak

About the author: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently a volunteer at Macomb-Oakland University INCubator.


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