I Before E Except After C Is A Criminal Conspiracy

I Before E Doesn't Equal C Inforgraphic with word cloud

For this Morning Misconception, let’s focus on a fallacy most foul: I before E except after C. According to my research (which, I will acknowledge, was brief) there are hundreds of words that break the rule. Words like weird, sleigh & seize, for starters. Things look even more bleak for the rule when you consider words that actually contain the three letter trifecta of C, E & I. There are roughly 923 CIE words and only 40 or so CEI words. So a more accurate rhyme might be:

I Before E Except After C (in about 4 percent of cases and in the other 96% forget I said anything).

An 1855 Spelling Book attempted to clarify the rule with another poem, but I think we can all agree it’s a pile of poo:

At the end of a word if you find silent e,
Then throw it away, — for there it can’t be
When an affix you add with a vowel commencing;
Thus “rogue” will make “roguish,” and “fence” will make “fencing”;
But if able or ous follow soft c or g,
Then, “change” you make “changeable”, keeping the e.

Yikes. Can’t imagine why that didn’t stick.

Watch some English gentleman and (naturally) Harry Potter discuss this controversial rule: