Use “i” before “e” except after “c” or when sounded like “a” as in “neighbor” or “weigh,” with the exception of “seize” and “seizure” and also “leisure,” “weird,” “height” and “either,” “forfeit” and “neither.”
But be careful.
You don’t want to get confused and accidentally forfeit your leisure to seize your weird neighbor to check their weight and height.
Avoid confusion and any resulting uncomfortable run-ins with your neighbor by giving your semi-memorized rules a rest. There are publications available to get you on the path to a writing wonderland. One such publication, “How to Write” by Alastair Fowler, is geared toward people who think they are hopeless and can’t write well.
According to the synopsis of “How to Write,” “The author is a seasoned writer whose encouraging but uncompromising guidance will delight as well as instruct.”
Topics in Fowler’s book include:
- How to begin (including prep work, producing drafts and making outlines)
- Sentence construction (including word order, punctuation and use of metaphors)
- Paragraph construction (including types of paragraphs, readability and size reduction)
- Tips on research and using reference works
So, if you’re wishing you had paid a little more attention in high school English – rather than the next note you’d write to Jimmy in the third row – pick up your copy of “How to Write” and no one will ever be the wiser. Except maybe Jimmy.