In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of spelling tips we will be looking at some of the most commonly misspelled words in English and suggesting ways to improve your spelling.
This week’s post looks at two spelling problems that have the same solution.
One of the best known tips for handling the tricky vagaries of English spelling is ‘i before e, except after c’. Yet people often search Macmillan Dictionary for *decieve instead of deceive. Similarly, many people search for *yeild when they want yield.
As Michael Rundell points out in the Macmillan Dictionary Spelling Guide, the ‘i before e’ rule only applies when the sound is ‘ee’ /i:/. If the sound is a different one, such as in beige or foreign, ‘e’ quite often comes before ‘i’; and ‘i’ comes before ‘e’ despite the preceding ‘c’ in words like science, because the sound is not /i:/.
But deceive and yield both follow the rule: ‘i’ before ‘e’ in yield, as the main part of the rule states; and ‘e’ before ‘i’ in deceive because they come after a ‘c’. This is one case where the spelling rule that many of us learned in school can be followed with confidence.
You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here. You can search for other posts in this series using the tag ‘spelling tips’.
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