Using the Wrong Vowels II

Students also commonly misspell words that have two consecutive vowels. One of the most common spelling errors occurs when students are unsure if the word should contain ie or ei – for instance, if the word should be spelled “receive” or “recieve”. When one is unsure of how to spell words with ie or ei, an easy mnemonic that students could remember is “I before E, except after C”.

As the rhyme suggests, in most instances, ie is the correct order in which these vowels are spelled, as in: “believe”, “lie”, “shied”, “cries”, “grief”, and “pierce”.

However, when a c precedes the vowel-duo, they should be spelled as ei, as in: “receive”, “deceive”, “conceive”, “ceiling”, “receipt”, and “conceit”.

While the rule “I before E, except after C” generally applies to most words that involve the consecutive vowels i and e, it is important to note that there are some exceptions to this rule. Such exemptions include:

ie after c: “efficient”, “fancied”, “policies”, “species”, “science”, and “society”

ei not preceded by c: “either”, “beige”, “feisty”, “their”, “seize”, “sleigh”, “vein”, and “weird”

Thus, it is important not to follow this mnemonic blindly, as there are several exceptions involved to this rule. One way a student could double-check their spelling is to pronounce the word out loud before spelling it out, and to listen if it makes the ie or ei sound.