“I” Before “E” Except After “C” …

I LOVE breaking writing rules if they make my writing better. But I also love find writing rules often considered tried-and-true, can-always-be-counted-on rules. So let’s start with the “i” before “e” except after “c” rule. It’s such a good one!

I know people who swear by this one, but the fact of the matter is it simply can’t be used across the board. Need proof?  Here’s a list of words where that rule simply does not apply:

  • Beige
  • Cleidoic
  • Codeine
  • Conscience
  • Deify
  • Deity
  • Deign
  • Dreidel
  • Eider
  • Eight
  • Either
  • Feign
  • Fein
  • Feisty
  • Foreign
  • Forfeit
  • Freight
  • Gleization
  • Gneiss
  • Greige
  • Greisen
  • Heifer
  • Heigh-ho
  • Height
  • Heinous
  • Heir
  • Heist
  • Leitmotiv
  • Neigh
  • Neighbor
  • Neither
  • Peignoir
  • Prescient
  • Rein
  • Science
  • Seiche
  • Seidel
  • Seine
  • Seismic
  • Seize
  • Sheik
  • Society
  • Sovereign
  • Surfeit
  • Teiid
  • Veil
  • Vein
  • Weight
  • Weir
  • Weird

Know some other “i” before “e” except after “c” rule breaking words? Drop me a comment and share!


Outgrowing Arcane Rules of Usage: Since vs. Because

I recently read an article giving a number of reasons why “since” should not be used to mean “because.” While the writer is theoretically correct, I found the premise to be primarily flawed in that, hey who doesn’t do this in this day and age and what reader with half a brain doesn’t understand the meaning of what is being said?

I know, technically this usage is slovenly, sloppy, careless, and yes, unthinking. It may even cause confusion to some … purists. Yet, how do you un-ring a bell? It may be too late in the evolution of the English language to force writers to use “because” to mean “because” when far too many of us have used “since” to use the very same thing.

Get over it already. Readers are smart enough, savvy enough, to know what you mean. Treat them like that. Forcing arcane usage and awkward sentence structures for the sake of following outdated rules only results in one thing: reader confusion.

If readers can’t navigate the sentence because they can’t get past the awkward structure, then the message is not only lost, your readers won’t continue reading the rest of the piece, right? And since readers easily understand “since” to mean “because,” then what’s the harm in using it? See, I just did it, and nothing horrible happened. So don’t get caught up in all the minutia.