Here’s a good way to teach your kids the ‘i before e except after c’ spelling rule.
In words that include a ‘c’, ‘e’ and an ‘i’, the ‘e’ usually goes first if they make the ‘ee’ sound when they are put together.
For example, these words follow this rule:
They make the same ‘ee’ sound as other words that use an ‘ie’ combination, such as:
It is the ‘c’ that makes the ‘i’ and the ‘e’ say ‘see’….
Some children remember this rule by learning that, when a ‘c’ comes before an ‘i’ and ‘e’, it ‘makes the letters swap spots’.
Of course, as is always the case with the English language, there are a few exceptions!
Sometimes words that make the ‘ay’ sound also fit the ‘i’ before ‘e’ rule.
And let’s not go there with words like weird, seize, foreign and caffeine that kids just have to learn as well!
When supporting your children with spelling rules, little tips like these act as problem-solvers. Your child can ask ‘does the word make the ‘ee’ sound?’ and if it does, there’s a good chance the ‘e’ comes before the ‘i’ if a ‘c’ is in the mix.
English! What a crazy language!
Teacher & Founder
2014 Kids First Children’s Services
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