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How Accurate is the ‘i Before e’ Rule?

Back in elementary school we were all taught the rhyme and rule “i before e except after c” to help us spell words like “friend” and “receive.” While the rule works in these examples, I always scratched my head over the many others such as “ancient”, “abeigh” and the class across the hall “science.”  So is this rule actually helping or is it inefficient?

This message made its way around the social networks on the topic.

i before e rule

This is a perfect example of why you should never immediately believe anything someone shares on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or the others.

On the site, I did a quick search and found about 1600 words have an “ei” in the word without a c preceding. Examples: atheist, beige, deity, and eight

I found 128 words that use “cei.” Examples: ceiling, conceited, receive, and receipt

And 542 words which use “cie.” Examples: ancient, agencies, iciest, and juicier

I am totally confused now. What is correct or incorrect? Are the 128 words that follow the rule more regularly used than the over 1600 which break it? All I can say is I’m happy I have spell check on my phone, computer, email, Google search, tablet and Facebook.

Maybe this “rule” was more of a recommendation or a guideline. Just like the guideline to never mix beer and wine. Which reminds me, my head hurts.


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