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The Complete I Before E Rule - With Explanations
See also: AVKO's book of exercises on the I Before E Rule
Download The Complete I Before E Rule (PDF)
 

Memorize the following poem and learn how to apply each part of the rule. Explanations
Use i before e Unless you have a reason not to, use ie as in thief, believe, priest, etc.

 

Except after c except after c Means: use cei as in receive, deceive, ceiling, etc.

 

Or when sounded as "EYE" or "AY"
as in Einstein and weigh.
Or when sounded as EYE or AY Means: use ei in "EYE" words such as Einstein, Eileen,  Heidi, stein, Steinbrenner, etc.  It also means use ei in "AY" words such as weigh, eight, vein, veil.

 

Neither, weird, foreign, leisure,
Seize, forfeit, and height
Are Exceptions spelled right
And so are: protein and caffeine forfeiture, codeine, heifer, etc. Memorize these!

 

But don't let the C-I-E-N words get you uptight! Means: cien as in efficient, ancient, conscience, and sufficient etc.


Use i before e Family with difficulty levels on scale of 1.00 to 21.00

grief (12.25) thief relief (12.00) chief (7.50) mischief (11.00) priest (12.20)

grieve (15.70) thieve relieve (14.00) achieve sieve niece (13.30)

piece (9.55) apiece (11.70) centerpiece siege besiege pier (11.90)

bier tier frieze field (7.05) battlefield yield (13.90)

shield (13.25) shriek friend fiend view review (9.80)

preview patient (12.65) impatient patience (15.80) fielder wield

Except after c Family (See p. 441 for -ceive receive family)

receipt (17.60) receiver (14.40) deceit deceive (15.70) deceitful ceiling (14.05)

conceivable inconceivable receipts (17.95) conceited conceivably

Or when sounded as "EYE"

ein Einstein fraulein Eileen Holstein eider

eidetic Pheiffer Feiffer feisty heist meister

Eisenhower Eiffel height (12.45) Heidi Heidelburg farenheit

H. J. Heit T. J. Heidt Heifitz sholem aleichem stein heigh-ho

Weisenheimer Heinlein Heinrich Heinz Heiss Heisenberg

Weiss Weissmuller Poseidon Rottweiler apartheid

Or when sounded as "AY"

weigh (9.25) weight (7.50) eight (3.35) freight (11.60) freighter neigh

neighbor (10.30) sheik sheikh heir (15.75) their (7.05) heinous

lei skein vermeil Eire inveigle feint

sleigh (13.35) deign reign (16.75) rein Pompeii feign

veil (16.20) unveiled vein (16.30) Chow mein seine reindeer (13.05)

Or when exceptions

neither (10.90) weird foreign (14.90) leisure (16.90) seize (15.15) forfeit

height (12.45) weirdo foreigner leisurely seizure forfeiture

protein caffeine codeine heifer surfeit counterfeit

C-I-E-N words

science (9.15) conscience (18.60) ancient (14.60) efficient (18.55) sufficient (18.10)

scientist conscientious inefficient efficiency (19.80) proficient omniscient

scientific (14.85) prescience inefficiency coefficient proficiency omniscience

Homophones: ceiling/sealing weigh/way weighed/wade weight/wait neigh/nay sleigh/slay reign/rein/rain vein/vain/vane lei/lay Eire/heir/air tier/tear they’re/there/their seize/sees/seas/c’s pier/peer bier/beer piece/peace feign/fain feint/faint bier/beer pier/peer

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