"I" Before "E" Except After "C"

A "C" I Drew - I'll add this drawing, too, just to try to make my discussion less boring.
@drannhh (15206)
United States
December 11, 2007 3:03pm CST
...unless it says "AY" as in "neighbor" and "weigh" Since this is an English language site and one of the most commonly made grammatical errors in English involves switching the letters "ie" for "ei" I'm curious how many people ever heard this rhyme before and if anyone besides me actually finds it useful in remembering how to spell things correctly. Do you know of any exceptions to this rule? This is not a criticism of anyone here and it is certainly true that many people for whom English is a first language still make this mistake. I am just bringing it up out of curiosity and also because I think using to help remember is a neat trick. I am still somewhat dependent on the calendar rhyme to recall how many days there are in each month, too.
7 people like this
14 responses
@kurtbiewald (2628)
• United States
11 Dec 07
My grammer was German so I don't know my mom does though my mom doesn't even need a spell checker can you imagine the advantage she would have if there was no software and no PCs she would be the ONLY person to spell everything correctly
4 people like this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
11 Dec 07
Maybe not the only one, since I only misspell things here on the computer, and I do know a few people who never misspell anything anywhere. But you are right that your mom would have a distinct advantage.
3 people like this
@GardenGerty (97960)
• United States
12 Dec 07
Niece is a word that plagues me, even though I know this rhyme, and say it all the time. I know there are exceptions, but they do not come to mind right now.If I dredge any up, I will pop in and add them. The reason I know that "niece" is a problem is because I use it often, and Firefox so nicely spell checks it and tells me I am wrong, wrong, wrong. I come into contact with these mnemonic devices or new ones, often, because I am working in a school. How about "When two vowels go a-walking, the first one does the talking. It says its long name." ? That was one I did not know until I started at this school. Now they even have rhymes for learning to write your numbers: "Around the tree, around the tree, that's the way you make a three."
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
12 Dec 07
I had never heard of the two vowels go a-walking rhyme either until we read about it in an education class where one researcher pointed out that it only worked 45% of the time in his study. Maybe that is why we never heard it before! For very young children such as your charges, though, it does seem quite useful especially with words such as "boat" or "tea" or "pain." "Either" is an exception, I think, as is "neither."
3 people like this
@GardenGerty (97960)
• United States
12 Dec 07
Typoglycemia--you rock.
2 people like this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
13 Dec 07
That'll fix 'em, and I love those pronouncing dictionaries, too.
1 person likes this
@aseretdd (13709)
• Philippines
12 Dec 07
I always make this mistake... receive or recieve... neither or niether... achieve or acheive... grief or greif... when i was still a teacher some english smart students would always point out my mistakes... and i would say that spelling is my waterloo... i never got into spelling bees... But your way or remembering this "ie" "ei" thing is great... i just wish my elementary english teacher also knew this method... The English language is so difficult when it comes to its rules... because there would always be and exemption...
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
12 Dec 07
Neither, which you mention above, is an exception, as are about a 100 other words, but of those in common usage, there are only a handful. Most of the exceptions can be remembered in some other catchy way. The most common mistakes I see concern the incorrect "thier" being used where "their" is the correct spelling, and "recieve" used wrongly in place of "receive" so although some say the exceptions make the rule worthless, I find it quite helpful as it jogs the memory to look up the ones about which I am unsure.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (97960)
• United States
12 Dec 07
Since their is from the word "they" I have not had a problem with it. Either and neither, yes, you are right. I think I still hear 'ay' in their, or almost do.
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
14 Dec 07
Good point that those who pronounce "their" more like "eH?" than "AYY" can still remember the relationship between THEY and their. That should help a few people.
@SViswan (12072)
• India
13 Dec 07
I've heard this rhyme before (but it was after I finished high school)..funny because I had English as a first language. A couple of days back, I heard it again on 'Mind your language'. But I must say that I do depend on the rhymes that I learnt as a kid to remember stuff. We had a teacher in Math who would makeup these little rhymes for us to remember stuff and it has stuck. I use my knuckles to remember the days in each month and my 7 year old son does the same.
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
14 Dec 07
If someone hasn't already done so, it would be great if you would start a new discussion and explain that knuckle rule, as I had never heard of it until recently and sometimes I forget parts of the calendar rhyme. We never leave home without our knuckles!
@SViswan (12072)
• India
15 Dec 07
It's easy. Close your hand to form a fist. Start at a raised part for January. Raised month has 31 days and the depressed part (like a valley) has 30 days. So, start counting and when you reach the end at July (which is raised) count back starting at the raised part again (that is July) - August would be on the raised part too since it has 31 days. I know it sounds complicated here...but it's pretty simple if you can get someone to show you. There's an explanation on this site. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Primary_mathematics/Time_math The only diffence is that I use one hand and count back after July instead of using the other hand.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12072)
• India
15 Dec 07
Here's another explanation (same as mine...and makes more sense:P) Make a fist and look at your knuckles. Start at one knuckle (say, the one below the index finger). Count either a "hilltop" or a "valley" (between the knuckles) for each month. At the last knuckle (below the pinkie finger), you count the hilltop twice, and go back the same way. December will land you on the knuckle below the middle finger. So what do you get? January, March, May, July, August, October, December are on a "hilltop"; February, April, June, September, November are in a "valley". Rule? Hilltop = 31 days, valley = 30 days, with exception of February.
• Philippines
13 Dec 07
hands raised ! i'm guilty with that at times.... but study shows that no matter how we jumble the letters in between as long as we get the first and las letter in the correct place, our brain can still guess/read the given word :-)
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
13 Dec 07
Wastn taht a grate stuyd? We can, although one wonders how that would work with medical or legal documents, given that when ambiguities arise humans tend to choose the version that suits them best rather than the one most likely to be true or fair.
• Philippines
13 Dec 07
and with human ambiguities, we are also influenced by those who say what is right or true :-)
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
14 Dec 07
...especially when it is expedient, and there is another word where the rule works.
@hillock (749)
• Qatar
13 Dec 07
oh my im way too guilty on this "i" and "e" thing..i still remember when i was in grade school that we spend a lot of time memorizing words that has ie and ei on it. i also read this rule on a english grammar book for 9 - 10 yrs old. and somehow i realized i didnt listen well to my english teacher way back..LOL! and if im writing something in the computer i always go to dictionary.com to check if my spelling is right.. ^-^
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
14 Dec 07
I still look up quite a few words, too, just to be on the safe side. For instance, "ceiling" follows the rule, but I still sometimes look it up to make sure...dunno why.
@hillock (749)
• Qatar
16 Dec 07
yah..its better safe than sorry! ^-^
@eyewitness (1577)
• Netherlands
12 Dec 07
I'm dutch but even in my own country people make a lot of mistakes.I think this problem started when msn messaging came.People made there own internet language so now people don't know what's the normal language and what is the internet language. Some people are word blind and some just don't understand the grammer. I was never good at grammer and i also had problems with math.But i was good in languages and i couldn't understand why people couldn't pronounce some words because i never had problems with it.But they couldn't understand why i had problems with math. But it's just recognition.
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
12 Dec 07
This is true. I can do math and languages, but am helpless when it comes to singing or playing an instrument. Recognition is the key to it, to be sure. Thank you for your insightful comment.
@xboxboy (5578)
12 Dec 07
is it 'thier'? i can never remember if the 'i' or the 'e' comes first! i am i rotten speler.
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
12 Dec 07
But you are such a GOOD spieler. Nice try. "Their" is not an exception to the so-called rule because it says "AY" as in neighbor and weigh...sort of. Thayre, thayre, now, don't feel bad. Science is an exception, though, and most of the words pertaining to it.
@mrsjbelle (1641)
• United States
12 Dec 07
Wow I always use that rhyme but I didnt know the last part of it. How interesting:) Another one I use is Never Eat Shredded Wheat. North South East West clockwise.
1 person likes this
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
12 Dec 07
How delightful! Obviously I never heard that one before, as shredded wheat is my favorite cereal, and that one I would have remembered. I could never keep "Naughty Elephants Squirt Water" in my head long for some reason.
@mimpi1911 (25454)
• India
4 Jan 08
Oh drahhnn, I still go by the calender rhyme besides my knuckle trick, to remember the number of days in a month. And as for your topic of discussion, I would say it's 'freind' (which often gets to a terribly stupefying typo 'fiend') instead of 'friend' is very cliched.
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
4 Jan 08
LOL! Some of my friends ARE fiends, especially here on myLot, but not you. Thank you!
@jtr115 (724)
• United States
17 Dec 07
"Height" would be another exception. The one mistake I see frequently online is the confusion of there, their and they're. For example, "The kids went to get there books" instead of "their books."
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
17 Dec 07
Excellent! Yes, I see those words confused quite often.
@abbey19 (3129)
• Gold Coast, Australia
16 Dec 07
Yes drannhh, I was brought up with this saying, and it has stayed with me all my life! I can't think of any exceptions to this rule at this moment, but I'm sure there are some. I also still use the calendar rhyme to remember how many days there are in each month too!
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
16 Dec 07
Even though I have to "re-learn" it from time to time, the calendar has bailed me many a time. Another exception to the first rule is "society."
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
14 Dec 07
I do find it useful to spell correctly. I am too upset right now to find out the exceptional rule and for those whose first language is English, it must be hard. That is why we who learned English from birth should be careful to show a good example. I used to learn things by rhyme when I was a kid and this method still sticks. Oh and to remember to use the speller checker. It works on Firefox, but I do not know when it comes to play on myLot.
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
14 Dec 07
You are right, and that is why I am embarrassed when I don't fix a typo here on myLot. Lately I've been making quite a few of them though, as I want to be sure to reply to all friend's discussions when possible, and there are so many active friends.
• United States
14 Dec 07
Oh I always use that too! I know there are exceptions besides the ones already posted here but, I can't for the life of me think of one single example right now. I'm behind posting on mylot lately because hubby and/or the kids have been home a lot.
@drannhh (15206)
• United States
14 Dec 07
"Foreign" is an exception and a good one to remember, too, because most of the other words that are exceptions are also words borrowed from other languages. Family comes first...ALMOST always!