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12.8: The <i>-Before <e> Rule and Spelling Long <a> and <i>

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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It's <i> before <e>, except after <c> Or when spelling [ā], as in neighbor or weigh.

1. When you are spelling long <e> the first line of the jingle is a good guide. The second line of the jingle is a good guide when you are spelling long <a>. Long <a> is never spelled <ie>. So far as the choice between <ie> and <ei> is concerned, when spelling [ā] always choose <ei>. Underline the letters that are spelling long <a> in the following words. Do not underline <gh> as part of the spelling of long <a>:


2. Sort the words into these two groups:

Words in which the <ei> . . .
comes before <gh> does not come before <gh>
neighbor sleigh vein veil
eight reign their
weigh heir reindeer
freight surveillance

3. We can make the l-Before-E Rule even more useful if we add something about spelling long <i> to it. Underline the letters that spell long <i> in the following words. Again, don't underline any silent <gh> after long <i>::


4. Sort the words into these two groups:

Words in which the [i] is...
at the beginning of the word in the middle of the word at the end of the word
eiderdown kaleidoscope seismic magpie
either height sleight untie
neither poltergeist underlie

5. Among these words, is [ī] at the end of the word spelled <ei> or <ie>? <ie>

At the beginning or in the middle of words [ī] is spelled <ei>.

6. In the previous lesson you saw that the <ie> spelling of long <e> sometimes occurs when a stem that ends in <y> has a suffix added to it that starts with <e>: gallery + es = gallery+i+es = galleries. The <ie> spelling of long <i> sometimes occurs in the same way: sky + es = sky+ i + es = skies, with [ī] spelled <ie>. Combine the following stems and suffixes and underline the letters that spell [ī]:

Free Stem + Suffix = Analysis = Word
sky + es = sky + i + es = skies
ally + es = ally+ i + es = allies
dignify + ed = dignify + i + ed = dignified
satisfy + ed = satisfy + i + ed = satisfied
modify + es = modify + i + es = modifies
terrify + ed = terrify+ i + ed = terrified
multiply + ed = multipiy+ i + ed = multiplied
testify + es = testify+ i + es = testifies
qualify + ed = qualify+ i + ed = qualified
dry + es = dry+ i + es = dries

7. Notice that this <ie> spelling of long <i> also comes at the end of the free stem, just as it does in words like untie and magpie. So now our l-Before-E Rule can tell us the following things:

a. When we're spelling long <e>, it's <i> before <e> except after <c>.

b. When we're spelling long <a>, it's <e> before <i> .

c. When we're spelling long <i>, it's <i> before <e> at the end of free stems, but it's <e> before <i> everyplace else.

Teaching Notes.

Item 1. Heir and their illustrate again the effect of [r] on a preceding vowel sound. Probably the students in your class will pronounce these words with a range from [e] to [ā]. But we will still treat their vowels as long <a>'s and blame the variation in pronunciation on the effects of the following [r].

The instructions to the students not to underline <gh> in these words is due to our earlier decision to treat the <gh> in words like weigh as diacritic markers rather than as part of the spelling of the vowel. For more on <gh>, see the teaching notes to Book 5, Lesson 8.

Item 7. This summary of the l-Before-E Rule simply adds to the second line of the original jingle:

It's <i> before <e> except after <c>,

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

Or when spelling an [ī] that is not an the word

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Date Created:
Oct 09, 2015
Last Modified:
Jun 02, 2016
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