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Word comparisons

Note 10 – Should you write ‘ie’ or ‘ei’?

My writing challenge

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link –  If you would prefer to dive straight into note 10, then read on…

What’s the rhyme?

I have always thought that the rhyme was i before e except after c, but according to Bernard Lamb’s book ‘The Queen’s English’, the rhyme is slightly longer i before e except after c, when the vowel sounds like bee.” (or sounds like ‘eee’ according to a few educational websites I’ve found today).

On further research, I have found an article written by Mary Elizabeth which has a lot of information and might be worth a read:  She mentions the original mnemonic which appears to be i before e, except after c, or when sounding like ‘ay’, as in neighbor or weigh.

Some examples of mine:

Words containing ie, where the vowel rhymes with bee:piece and niece

Words not rhyming with bee (but instead rhyming with ay): reign, beige and vein

Where the ei is after the c: receipt and conceit

Some exceptions to be learnt:seize and protein

My thoughts:  Although there are rules, you definitely need to think about which part of the rhyme the word fits into (if any) in order to get it right.  Learning the exceptions would probably be the best idea and then you can rely on the rhyme for the rest. 

Oh, and one last thing, my surname ‘Madeira’ is an exception to the rhyme and most of the time people hesitate when they spell it (unless they’ve been to the country, had the wine or eaten the cake).

It’s a very late finish again tonight. Depending on if you read this tonight or tomorrow, ‘have a good sleep’ or ‘good morning’!

Until tomorrow…


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Twitter: @madeirasandra  and  @tipsandluxuries

Reference list

Bernard C. Lamb The Queen’s English (2010), UK


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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