Writing Mini-Lessons: The Truth about I before E
Have any of you memorized the rhyme “i before e, except after c” to help you improve your spelling? If so, you may have felt betrayed by the e before i in words like neither, their, and weird, where there is not a c in sight and nothing “sounds like a as in neighbor and weigh.” The truth about i before e is that it is more of a generalization than a hard and fast spelling rule. It is true that in English spelling, we usually write ie, and after a c that sounds like an s, it’ll be ei, not ie. However, there are a large number of exceptions to the “i before e, except after c” rule.
Write i before e, except after a soft c that sounds like an s.
Examples of ei after a soft c:
Note: Watch out for ancient, species, and financier.
Some Other Words That Put E before I: