Tag Archives: drama

i before e, except after c… no longer

As a few people have pointed out the old mnemonic device to teach children their ie and ei words is to be thrown on the scrapheap, the British Government has decided that i before e, is no longer a valid method of learning what is what because there are now too many exceptions to the rule.

Well THAT is what the press would have us believe is what the report says, that’s what the press have made of this particular note in the report, on page 106 I do believe;

Note: The i before e except after c rule is not worth teaching. It applies only to words in which the ie or ei stands for a clear /ee/ sound and unless this is known, words such as sufficient, veil and their look like exceptions. There are so few words where the ei spelling for the /ee/ sound follows the letter c that it is easier to learn the specific words: receive, conceive,deceive (+ the related words receipt, conceit, deceit), perceive and ceiling.

It appears that the old menomic has undergone quite a few changes, when I went to school it went;

‘i before e except after c,  or when pronounced like an a’.

In the 1930’s it seems that they had a much more complex one;

“I before E
Except after C,
Or when pronounced “ay”
As in “neighbor” or “weigh”.

and this one;

“If the letter c you spy, put the e before the i.”

What in actuality the report is suggesting is that we teach the words, the ei words after the c, because there are so few of them, rather than relying on the mnemonic.

Ahh, changes always bring out the best and worst in people