The i-e Confusion

“I just can’t take it anymore!”

Elbows planted on his desk, Dis  Connect clutched his remaining wisps of hair in an attempt to control his frustration.

I-e twirl“I know the rule is ‘before e except after c,‘ but that doesn’t work for in lieu of,” he groaned. “How am I supposed to get this report done if I can’t get the spelling right?”

Grammar Smith nodded in sympathy.

“The old saw has more than that,” she explained. “The whole thing is ‘i before e except after c and in words like neighbor and weigh.’ The long a words tend to be the exception.”

“That’s the problem,” Dis exclaimed. “There’s a rule, but there are almost as many exceptions as rules. How’s a body supposed to deal with that?”

“Yes, just when you think you’ve got it settled, someone tosses in a word like leisure to throw it all into confusion again,” Grammar said. “The thing to remember is that it isn’t a hard and fast rule; it’s more a guideline. I use it for words I tend to confuse like chief and shield.”

“Thanks goodness for Spellcheck!” Dis declared as he pounded away at his keyboard.