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-ie- or -ei-

Sometimes it is difficult to remember whether a word is spelled with -ie- or -ei-. There is a very simple rule about this:

I before E
except after C
or when sounding like AY
as in neighbour and weigh

RuleExamples
I before Eachieve, believe, brief, chief, friend, grief, hygiene, patience, pierce, priest, thief
except after Cceiling, conceit, conceive, deceit, deceive, perceive, receipt, receive
or when sounding like AY beige, feint, freight, inveigle, neighbour, sleigh, vein, weigh, weight

Here are some common exceptions to the above rule:

  • either, neither, caffeine, codeine, counterfeit, foreign, forfeit, height, leisure, protein, their, weird, seize, seizure

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