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180 THE FACTS ON FILE GUIDE TO GOOD WRITING time-honored rule “i before e except after c,” and this advice is generally effective. Note, however, that a more complete rule is “i before e except after c, when the sound is long ee.” For examples of words that obey this well-known rule and of some of the few exceptions to it see below. Note particularly that the rule does not apply in words where -ei- represents the sound ay. Examples achieve belief brief ceiling chief conceit conceive

deceit deceive diesel field grief niece perceive

piece receipt receive relieve shield shriek siege

sieve thief wield yield

Fahrenheit fancies feign foreign freight inveigle neigh neighbor

neither policies protein reign rein seize skein sleigh

sovereign species veil vein weigh weight weir weird

Exceptions ageism beige caffeine codeine counterfeit deign eight either

-ER/-EST The addition of -er and -est suffixes to adjectives to create comparative and superlative forms does not usually necessitate any change in the stem word (large, larger, largest; small, smaller, smallest), but there are occasions when a change is required. In the case of words that end in a silent -e, this last letter is dropped when a suffix beginning with a vowel is added (pale, paler, palest). When a word ends with a consonant followed by -y, the final -y is replaced by -i before the suffix (cheery, cheerier, cheeriest). One-syllable words with a short vowel sound and ending in a single consonant have the final consonant doubled before the suffix (glad, gladder, gladdest). (See also COMPARATIVE AND SUPERLATIVE, page 109.)

-ES/-S The suffix -s is usually added in order to make a noun plural or to alter the present tense of verbs in the third person singular (he, she, or it). In cases where words end in -ch, -s, -sh, -x, or -z, however, -es is the appropriate form. See the lists below for examples. -es boxes blushes bushes

catches chintzes foxes

lashes masses matches

pitches sexes taxes

Guide to good writing - Martin Manser  
Guide to good writing - Martin Manser