Schoolchildren everywhere are taught the ‘I before E’ rule when learning how to read and write and then its rather confusing follow up ‘except after C’.
But a now viral post on Reddit has proven that this rule seems to be made to be broken – and it’s all thanks to a quirky coffee mug.
The mug, which is sold on Etsy, lists some of the words where this rule doesn’t actually work.
It reveals that Keith, foreign, receives, sleighs and feisty all break this rule.
And one internet user has now proven that in 21 per cent of cases, words do not actually follow the ‘I before E’ mantra.
A coffee mug sold on Etsy has gone viral after it proved that the ‘I before E’ rule is often broken
The mug reads: ‘I before e except when your foreign neighbour Keith receives eight counterfeit beige sleighs from feisty caffeinated weightlifters.’
The mug was shared on Reddit where it has left internet users scratching their heads.
It was posted by DeadYen, who called it ‘the mug to end all mugs’, but it sparked huge debate on the messageboard.
Many people came up with different solutions for how the rule could be fixed.
Reddit users shared different variations of the rule, including ‘I before e, except after c, or when sounding like ”a” as in neighbor or weigh’
One commented: ‘The full expression is actually ”i and e are both after c, and so are o and u”. I find this particularly helpful.’
Another said: ‘Except all those words don’t have a ”ee” sound except receive, which follows the rule. ”i before e” is for things like piece, achieve, believe (or ceiling, receipt, conceit) and it’s pretty reliable.’
‘I before e, except after c, or when sounding like ”a” as in neighbor or weigh,’ a third posted.
One Reddit user revealed that in 21 per cent of cases words do not follow the rule, and 68 per cent of words don’t follow the ‘except after C’ part of the rule
A fourth wrote: ‘If you extent the rule to ”i’ before e except after c but ONLY if the sound is ”ee” then it works with very few exceptions.’
Another wrote: ‘It’s likely something some teachers are prone to saying because it’s what they were taught when they were younger, and it’s not something you think about often so it’s probably just something they still accept as the truth.’
While another added: ‘You were lied to.’
One Reddit user did their research and actually worked out how many times the rule was correct.
Professorboat revealed that 79 per cent of the 5,000 most common words follow the ‘i before e’ rule, where 21 per cent do not.
And the ‘except after C rule’ isn’t very accurate, as more words 68 per cent of words are written with a ‘cie’, rather than ‘cei’, such as efficiency and scientific.