I love grammar. (This is surprising to exactly no one at this point, right?) But we’re taking a timeout from grammar this week to talk about spelling. The topic: when “i” comes before “e”. It seems like that’s the most common trip-up in the English language today. You know why? Because there is no consistency.
But What About “I” Before “E” Except After “C”?
Sure, as a general rule, that’s a great phrase to remember. Most of the time, it’s true. See the example below:
Naomi believed that giant spiders were going to descend from the ceiling in her room at any moment, so she kept a broom by her bedside at all times.
And its cousin, “…or when sounded as ‘A’ as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’,” can also be helpful. However, this is not even remotely a hard-and-fast rule. Let’s continue Naomi’s story:
She had to forfeit the broom, though, when her mother started noticing a weird thumping noise that was foreign to the normal household noises.
Further proof that the English language makes no sense. Comedian Brian Regan sums it up best in this clip. I wish there was a nice, neat, tidy rule for this one. Practice makes perfect though, and the more you use those weird e-before-i words, the more naturally you’ll be able to spell them.
Take a quick five minutes and come up with a list of i-before-e and e-before-i words. For the remaining ten minutes of practice time, use as many of those words as you can to describe a threat to a city/house/treehouse. It could be an impending missile, or giant spiders attacking. Post your practice in the comments and leave notes for your fellow writers.