—or so I’m told. In fact, I read somewhere that we have more words with -ei- than with -ie! I wouldn’t even have mentioned this poor rule except I ran into a cartoon about it:
So why the part about ‘except after c’? Certain Latin words begin with c followed by a vowel, and they ended up in English with an e immediately after the c. Hence conceive, perceive, receive, and so on.
Some other exceptions to this rule: eight, reign, neighbor, weigh, weight, freight, feign, neigh, vein, deign, veil, beige, sheik, sleigh, feint, and lots more. At least these are all pronounced -ay. Hmm…
Notice that a lot of the words have a -gh? Maybe we could make a rule about -ei- that refers to -gh. —Nah, that would create even more problems, right?
You can also get an -ei- when a syllable intervenes, such as deionize and absenteeism.
To save you having to look it up, here’s a link to a list with more than a thousand of them. Not all the words are common, but you might enjoy looking over the list. Once anyweigh. Oops.