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“I Before E Except After C” Extended

We all know the old adage “I before E, except after C.” We also know that it should be selectively obeyed because it’s not always so simple. I remember having heard a longer version of the rule as a kid, and my friend Parker had heard a different one. Thus, the quest to find the most comprehensive rendition of the poem began.

What I found is that it’s the worst “rule” ever. There are so many exceptions, it’s almost a disservice to teach it to children. I found two versions of the poem that included an extra verse to help cover a few exceptions, but nothing that adequately exposed the small subset of words this law actually applies to. So I took the verses I found, combined them, and added some of my own. This is what I ended up with:

I before E except after C, and when sounding like A as in neighbor or weigh.

Either, neither, leisure, and seize, are exceptions if you please.

Weird is weird, and it makes this rule bunk, and whoever spelled Budweiser the first time was drunk.

…And as if in one final act of defiance, come I-after-C words like conscience and science.

Parker also reminded me of a similar rhyme we—with the help of our roommates—came up with back in college. It went something like this:

O before U except after Q, and when sounding like ‘you.’
…Or in fluoride, buoy, and duo.

We could never figure out how to make that last part rhyme, but even without it, the rule holds up as well as the “i before e” one.

Search Results I found Helpful:
Excerpt From: I before E (except after C): old-school ways to remember stuff

The Free Dictionary Language Forum

  • http://parkerwilson.com Parker Wilson

    I like that combined version you made… SO SIMPLE! English really is a mess. I’m making the move to Esperanto! Who’s coming with me!?!?

    • Zooba

      Mi estas!

  • http://www.facebook.com/clairewattsw Claire Andrea Williams

    • http://stuffigoogle.com/ Steve Thorson

      Wow. This video says there are 21 times as many words that break the rule than there are that follow it.