The Complete I Before E Rule - With Explanations
Memorize the following poem and learn how to apply each part of the rule.
Use i before e
Unless you have a reason not to, use ie as in thief, believe, priest, etc.
Except after c
except after c Means: use cei as in receive, deceive, ceiling, etc.
Or when sounded as "EYE" or "AY"
Or when sounded as EYE or AY Means: use ei in "EYE" words such as Einstein, Eileen, Heidi, stein, Steinbrenner, etc. It also means use ei in "AY" words such as weigh, eight, vein, veil.
Neither, weird, foreign, leisure,
And so are: protein and caffeine forfeiture, codeine, heifer, etc. Memorize these!
But don't let the C-I-E-N words get you uptight!
Means: cien as in efficient, ancient, conscience, and sufficient etc.
Use i before e Family with difficulty levels on scale of 1.00 to 21.00
grief (12.25) thief relief (12.00) chief (7.50) mischief (11.00) priest (12.20)
grieve (15.70) thieve relieve (14.00) achieve sieve niece (13.30)
piece (9.55) apiece (11.70) centerpiece siege besiege pier (11.90)
bier tier frieze field (7.05) battlefield yield (13.90)
shield (13.25) shriek friend fiend view review (9.80)
preview patient (12.65) impatient patience (15.80) fielder wield
Except after c Family (See p. 441 for -ceive receive family)
receipt (17.60) receiver (14.40) deceit deceive (15.70) deceitful ceiling (14.05)
conceivable inconceivable receipts (17.95) conceited conceivably
Or when sounded as "EYE"
ein Einstein fraulein Eileen Holstein eider
eidetic Pheiffer Feiffer feisty heist meister
Eisenhower Eiffel height (12.45) Heidi Heidelburg farenheit
H. J. Heit T. J. Heidt Heifitz sholem aleichem stein heigh-ho
Weisenheimer Heinlein Heinrich Heinz Heiss Heisenberg
Weiss Weissmuller Poseidon Rottweiler apartheid
Or when sounded as "AY"
weigh (9.25) weight (7.50) eight (3.35) freight (11.60) freighter neigh
neighbor (10.30) sheik sheikh heir (15.75) their (7.05) heinous
lei skein vermeil Eire inveigle feint
sleigh (13.35) deign reign (16.75) rein Pompeii feign
veil (16.20) unveiled vein (16.30) Chow mein seine reindeer (13.05)
Or when exceptions
neither (10.90) weird foreign (14.90) leisure (16.90) seize (15.15) forfeit
height (12.45) weirdo foreigner leisurely seizure forfeiture
protein caffeine codeine heifer surfeit counterfeit
science (9.15) conscience (18.60) ancient (14.60) efficient (18.55) sufficient (18.10)
scientist conscientious inefficient efficiency (19.80) proficient omniscient
scientific (14.85) prescience inefficiency coefficient proficiency omniscience
Homophones: ceiling/sealing weigh/way weighed/wade weight/wait neigh/nay sleigh/slay reign/rein/rain vein/vain/vane lei/lay Eire/heir/air tier/tear they’re/there/their seize/sees/seas/c’s pier/peer bier/beer piece/peace feign/fain feint/faint bier/beer pier/peer