Lawless English

I before E

Whether to spell any given word with ie or ei can often stump native English speakers. In school many of us were taught the mnemonic device "I before E except after C or when sounding like A as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh.’ " This is a fairly good rule, but it has a lot of exceptions.

I before E (with a long E sound)…   exceptions
belief caffeine
hurried either
lien leisure
piece protein
shield seize
thieves sheik
 
except after C…    
ceiling deficient
conceit science
receipt sufficient
receive species
 
or when sounding like "A" as in…
neighbor    
weigh  
eight  
rein  
vein  
veil  

So much for the rule. Here are some other exceptions:

Long I sound

Other sounds

Re + verb beginning with I

Verbs that end in E + ing

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