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15.16: Review of < i >-Before-< e >

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

Review of <\text{I}> Before <E>

“It's <\text{i}> before <e>, except after <c>,

Or when spelling [ā], as in neighbor or weigh.

1. The version of the <\text{I}> Before <E> Rule that we use is a little different from the old rhyme quoted above: There are two things different in our version:

First, it has an extra line: “Or when spelling [ī] at the beginning or middle of an element.”

And second, it applies only to cases where the <\text{i}> and <e> are in the same element in the word.

Our version doesn't rhyme so well, but it is more reliable:

<\text{I}> Before <E> Rule. Within a single element, it's <\text{i}> before <e>, except after <c>, Or when spelling [ā], as in neighbor or weigh, Or when spelling [ī] that is at the element's beginning or mid.

Spellings that follow this rule are called instances of the rule, and spellings that do not follow it are called holdouts. To be an instance a spelling involving <\text{i}> and <e> within a single element must be one of the following:

  1. <cei>, or
  2. <ei> spelling the long <\text{a}> sound, [ā], or
  3. <ei> spelling the long <\text{i}> sound, [ī], at the front or the middle (but not at the end) of an element, or
  4. <ie> everywhere else.

On the other hand, to be a holdout a spelling must be either

  1. a <cie>, or
  2. an <ei> not in a <cei> and not spelling [ā] and not spelling [ī] at the beginning or middle of an element.

2. The following forty words contain twenty-eight instances of the rule and twelve holdouts. Sort them into the five groups indicated below:

 &\text{achieved} &&\text{eiderdown} &&\text{hygiene} &&\text{receive}\\&\text{eight} &&\text{reign} &&\text{sovereign} &&\text{priest}\\&\text{believe} &&\text{feisty} &&\text{kaleidoscope} &&\text{relieve}\\&\text{ceiling} &&\text{financier} &&\text{leisure} &&\text{surfeit}\\&\text{conceive} &&\text{foreign} &&\text{lie} &&\text{vein}\\&\text{forfeit} &&\text{neighbor} &&\text{seismic} &&\text{tie}\\&\text{counterfeit} &&\text{grief} &&\text{friendship} &&\text{seize}\\&\text{deceit} &&\text{heifer} &&\text{piece} &&\text{shriek}\\&\text{die} &&\text{receipt} &&\text{poltergeist} &&\text{schlemiel}\\&\text{protein} &&\text{sleight} &&\text{weird} &&\text{weir}

3. The following words at first sight may seem like holdouts to the rule. Analyze each word into its elements as indicated in the formula: ‘P’ = Prefix, ‘BB’ = Bound Base, ‘FB’ = Free Base, and ‘S’ = Suffix. We've given you a start here and there:

Word Formula Analysis
ancient BB+S anci +
herein FB+FB
conscience P+BB+S
iciest FB+S+S
obedient BB+S + edi +
science BB+S
society BB+S + ety
experience P+BB+S
efficiency P+BB+S + fic + i +
patience BB+S

You should have found that in each of these words there is an element boundary between the <\text{i}> and the <e>. Since the <\text{I}> Before <E> Rule only applies to spellings where the <\text{i}> and <e> are in the same element, words like these are not holdouts.

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Jan 16, 2015
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