I had a bad experience with the "I before E" rule when I was eleven. I was in the sixth grade, in my 8th period Academic Enrichment
class (something they threw all honors students into to take up schedule space, usually just a second portion of another core class like English
, or science
). This was an English-based Academic Enrichment class.
We had a substitute teacher and we were left with several workheets reviewing basic English grammar. One worksheet went over "I before E." I was quite familiar with the mnemonic device: "I before E, except after C, or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh." Unfortunately, teachers had never mentioned exceptions to me.
Being the quick-witted student, I shot my hand up in the air and asked the substitute teacher, in a rhetorical manner (obviosuly knowing she would not be able to explain this one to me), "What about the word 'weird'?"
"I before E except after C!" she yelled at me.
"No, no. I understand that. Although the word 'weird' does not follow this axiom, as you will see here. I have written the word 'weird' out on a sheet of paper. You may notice that the 'e' comes before the 'i'."
"I before E except after C, young lady!"
I plunged my head into my arms and didn't look back up until she left. I figured this little secret was better left safe with me, at least until I got to high school. I never spoke up about this miracle word ever again... well, until now.
Sadly, I still know people who spell the word as "wierd."