Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

i before e?

leave a comment »

Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London, February...
Image via Wikipedia

Spotted on the front page of the online Telegraph today:

Mass cover-up of sexual abuse by Catholic preists

Preists? That should, of course, be ‘priests’.

This glaring error opens a very tricky can of spelling worms. The old rule, ‘i before e except after c’, does, of course, apply in the case of ‘priests’. But what about words like ‘weird’ (appropriately enough), which drive a coach and horses through the rule, as do these:

  • Neighbour
  • Weigh
  • Sleigh
  • Leisure
  • Height
  • Neither
  • Seize
  • Protein
  • Caffeine

Oxford Dictionaries explains the ins and outs.

Unfortunately, some spellings evade the rules and just have to be memorised (or simply checked in a dictionary).



Written by Wordwatch

26/11/2009 at 11:45 am

Your questions and comments are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: