Below are some spelling issues to consider. This page is still under
I Before E | Y Becomes
"ie" | British Spelling
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.
- when a C comes immediately beforehand
- when the diphthong is pronounced like an A
- when you're trying to spell my last name (Leib, not Lieb)
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.
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.
- Most words that Americans spell ending in "-ize" are spelled with
"-ise" in Britain: for example: realize/realise.
- The British add a "u" between "o" and "r" in words such as
color/colour, favor/favour (and favorite/favourite), honor/honour, etc.
- When adding suffixes to words that end with the letter "L", the
British double the "L": for example: canceled/cancelled, leveled/levelled.
(Note this only occurs when the "L" is preceded by a single vowel; if
there are two vowels, e.g. "concealed," the "L" is not doubled.)
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Joan the English Chick
Last updated 24 April 1998