I Before E except after C when sounding like EEE

Remember: I before E, except after C!

This has to be another one of the all-time favourite errors people make.

I learnt from a very young age to say the rhyme, “I before E, except after C!”, and you know what? I still use it today when I’m writing! That’s right – it has stuck with me through quite a few decades, and has been a great tool for me over the years.

Examples:

“My sister’s daughter is my niece.”

Psst! Remember how to spell niece by saying, “Nice niece!” … which means write the *i* in *nice* before the *e*.

Remember this poem (updated 27 Nov 2017):

I before E, except after C, only when the sound is ‘ee’
Or when it sounds like ‘A’, like in Neighbor and Weigh,
Or when it sounds like ‘Ear’, like in the word Weird,
Or when it sounds like ‘Eek’, like in Sheik!

The research I’ve uncovered clarifies it so much for me — especially when the two vowels are ONLY sounding like one sound (if they sound like two vowels, as in SCIENCE or sci-ence, this rule does not apply).

This is the older version:

I before e except after c
Or sounding like A
As in NEIGHBOUR and WEIGH
But LEISURE and SEIZE
Do as they please.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed these tips about “I before E” – do you have any tips you’d like to share?

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