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‘I’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’

Most rules in English have exceptions and the ‘I’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’ rule is no exception (pardon the pun).

Hold on…I’m assuming you all know what ‘I’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’ means, but for those who don’t here goes:

Generally words that have an ‘i’ and ‘e’ combination will have it in that order, unless preceded by a ‘c’. So ‘c’ usually makes ‘ie’ become ‘ei’.

To borrow from Wikipedia, here are some examples:

ie: believe, fierce, collie, die, friend
ei after c: deceive, ceiling, receipt

As with all rules, they are made to be broken so here are some exceptions (also courtesy of Wikipedia):

ie after c: species, science, sufficient
ei not preceded by c: seize, weird, vein, their, foreign, feisty

Interestingly some people insist the rule has too many exceptions to be worth learning!

Here is a cute graphic, courtesy of my friend Claire Cohen, showing several exceptions to the ‘I’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’ rule. Enjoy!

I before E

Yours in crisp, error-free writing,
Jessica xx

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