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I before E ... the rest

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897000.  Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:47 am Reply with quote

I was taught:

I before e except after C
or when sounding like 'a'
in neighbour or weigh.

910372.  Sun May 20, 2012 2:44 am Reply with quote

This has had much debate in my household as my 23 year old brother could not understand the concept of the rule, let alone how it doesn't work.. we tried explaining it slowly.. something along the lines of "you put the 'i' before the 'e' unless its after 'C' in which case it should be 'e' before 'i'." Once he had finally understood the rule we then had to explain that it was incorrect, it was like a live version of what happened in the show, but we then formed our own rule, 'E' before 'I' except after 'Y', I'd like to know for certain if this was an actual rule that already existed or if it even works. We found one case where it works, in the world 'yield', I couldn't think of anywhere better to post this than asking the QI community, So E before I except after Y?

910379.  Sun May 20, 2012 4:34 am Reply with quote

Let's call the whole thing off.

910497.  Sun May 20, 2012 2:08 pm Reply with quote

Catherine - I've never heard of y being brought into the case, except that a noun ending in a consonant followed by a y changes the y to ie in the plural, as in city-cities. Welcome to QI :-)

910549.  Sun May 20, 2012 4:13 pm Reply with quote

I just did some searches on a Scrabble word list.

Words with the letter sequence <YIE> are few in number - YIELD and various derivatives thereof, together with CLAYIER and CLAYIEST (from the adjective CLAYEY) and the rather obscure noun BRULYIE (Scots, a quarrel. The alternate spelling BRULZIE is more common; I'm guessing that it was originally spelled with a yogh).

But the sequence <YEI> is even less common - forms of DYEING and EYEING are all there is.

910616.  Mon May 21, 2012 2:35 am Reply with quote

136 vs 70, according to the OED wildcard search.


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