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I was going nuts this afternoon trying to remember the third line to “i before e except after c” – the second, if you don’t know, is “or when it sounds ‘a’ as in neighbor and weigh.”

Well, it turns out there isn’t any third line, as such, that I could find. And the rhyme goes all to shit after line two.

The most complete I found was Merriam-Webster’s but, for reasons I can’t work out, they left in a number of examples where i was indeed before e.

If you can work out why, let me know. I’m probably being dense. So here’s their list with those examples removed:

I before e, except after c
Or when sounded as ‘a’ as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’
Or ‘e’ as in ‘seize’ or ‘i’ as in ‘height’
Or in ‘-ing’ inflections ending in ‘-e’ like ‘cueing’
Or in compound words as in ‘albeit’
Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in ‘cuneiform’
Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as ‘forfeit’ and ‘weird’.

I hope that clears it up for you.

June 10, 2021 — 6:37 pm
Comments: 13