Posted by: episystechpubs | April 3, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Weighty Heifers

As promised, today I have some helpful information on that “I before E, except after C” guideline that many of us learned in grade school. Most people complain that this is a useless rule in English. One of our co-workers told me she relives the trauma of a spelling bee lost after using this rule, every time she hears it. Another co-worker has embraced the guideline as his own, with the version: “I before E, except in Keith.” Until I saw the rhyme in its entirety, I agreed that it seemed useless.

I thought this article from Maeve Maddox at Daily Writing Tips was very helpful, so I am including a big chunk of the article for your reading and learning pleasure. Here it is, starting with the full rhyme:

I before E,
Except after C,
And when sounded as A
As in neighbor and weigh.

Let’s see how far this rule will take us with common words.

I before E
achieve
believe
belief
brief
chief
die
field
fierce
friend
lie
lingerie
niece
pie
piece
pierce
prairie
priest
siege

Except after C
ceiling
conceit
conceive
deceive
receipt
receive
perceive

And when sounded as A,
as in neighbor and weigh
heir
neighbor
reign
rein
skein
surveillance
their
veil
vein
weigh

Exceptions to the Rule
caffeine
counterfeit
either
forfeit
foreign
heifer
leisure
neither
sovereign
seized
weird

This list of 46 words is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a fair gauge of how far the old jingle can take you in spelling the ie/ei words you are most likely to want to write.

(Thanks for the graphic, Mr. Hooper!)

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor


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