Writing Tip 68: The “i” before “e” except after “c” Challenge

923 words that break the "i" before "e" rule?Recently, a challenge was thrown down from one of you. And you know me; I can’t ignore a good writing dispute. It’s like a double-dog dare in the school yard–just switch out the bold kid with me sitting at my computer, glasses on, jaw steeled with determination. (An intimidating picture, I know)

The claim states, “There are 923 words that break the ‘i’ before ‘e’ rule. Only 44 words actually follow that rule.”

For the sake of a writing tip, let’s take a moment to get into the nitty gritty fine print that this statement ignores. The “i” before “e” except after “c” rule applies only to words where the “ie” makes the “ee” sound (e.g. “achieve,” “piece,” “belief,” “receive,” “ceiling,” “receipt,” etc.). Some spelling textbooks even record this as part of the rhyme:

I before E except after C,
When the sound is “ee” More