The English language is often inconsistent and many words are hard to spell. It would be great if English had rules that people could follow so they could spell words correct. English does have a rhyming phrase that is used to help people spell words that have an ‘ie’ or an ‘ei’ in them. This spelling rule should give the correct order of these two letters in most cases and it is: “I before E except after C, Or when sounded as ‘a’, As in ‘neighbor’ or ‘weigh’.”
This rule is nice because it rhymes and that makes it easier to learn, but it is not consistent and only when we add numerous exceptions will we be able to get us closer to a more useful rule. However the more we try to accommodate these exceptions, the harder it becomes to remember and then you realize that it really isn’t a rule at all. A more improved rule might add these following qualifiers:
Addressing the ‘ei’ part of the rule when following a c, we need to add some extra statements to modify this part.
Unless the ‘c’ is part of a ‘sh’ sound as in ‘glacier’ Or it appears in comparatives and superlatives like ‘fancier’ Or to plurals of words ending in ‘–cy’ like bankruptcies, Or to words derived from the Latin root ‘sci’ as in ‘science’, ‘conscience’, ‘prescient’ or ‘omniscient’.
Other exceptions for words that are spelled with e before i are listed as follows:
When the vowel sound is ‘ee’ as in ‘seize’, Or when the sound is ‘i’ as in ‘height’, Or when some words have an inflectional ending like ‘-ing’ that follows an ‘e’ as in ‘cueing’, Or in compound words as in ‘albeit’, Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in ‘cuneiform’. Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as ‘forfeit’ and ‘weird’.
I hope that everyone is happy that I cleared this up and everybody should know how to spell the word Reprieve, but if you do have trouble, then you can always use a spell checker.