Below are some spelling issues to consider. This page is still under construction.

I Before E | Y Becomes "ie" | British Spelling

I Before E

You may have heard the rule "I before E, except after C." This spelling rule will serve you well in most instances, especially for words like perceive, conceive, retrieve, etc. However, the entire rule goes: "I before E, except after C and when sounding like A, as in neighbor or weigh."

In other words, there are three main instances in which the I does not come before the E:

This rule will help you with most words containing an "ie" or "ei." Unfortunately, as with almost every rule in English, there are exceptions. The words "height" and "their" come to mind. Still, in general you should be safe following this rule.


Y Becomes "ie"

When forming the plural of a word that ends in the letter "y", the "y" changes to "ie." Example: puppy/puppies, cherry/cherries.

This rule also applies when you add suffixes to adjectives that end in "y", for example happy/happier/happiest, and also when forming the third-person present tense or the past tense of a verb that ends in "y", such as apply/applies/applied.


British Spelling

There are several spelling rules that differ between American and British spelling. (In general, Canadians follow the British spelling conventions.) In each example below, the American spelling is first, and the British spelling is after the slash.

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Joan the English Chick
Last updated 24 April 1998