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eight /eɪt/

receive /rɪˈsiːv/

I before E except after C

This rule of thumb is not always true. It should be understood as "I before E except after C if the vowel-sound rhymes with bee".[1] This article explores the "cei" part (and exceptions).[2] For the "ie" part see Decoding exercises: "ie".

  • /iː/, after C: ceiling, conceive, deceit, deceive, perceive, receipt, receive
other: caffeine, leisure,AmE protein, seizure
  • /eɪ/: beige, eight, feign, freight, heinous, neighbor,AmE neighbour,BrE reign, sleigh, surveillance /sɜːrˈveɪləns/, vein, weigh, weight
  • /e/: heifer, Leicester /ˈlestər/, leisureBrE
  • /aɪ/: height, heighten, kaleidoscope, meiosis, seismic
  • /ɪ/: counterfeit, sovereign /ˈsɒvrɪn /
Two different syllables
  • /iːɪ/: being, reimburse, reinforce
  • /iːɪ/ or /ɪɪ/: atheist, reiteration
  • /eɪə/ or /iːə/: deity, spontaneity
  • /eə/: heir /eər/, their

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Greg Brooks, Dictionary of the British English Spelling System, page 221, 2015.
  2. "I before E except after C, and when sounding like A as in neighbor and weigh, and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May, and you’ll always be wrong no matter what you say!", Brian Regan, American stand-up comedian.