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Why they have different spellings although they have same pronunciation?(Iam referring to the 'ei' and 'ie' part of that words respectively)

I always get confused between them during exams.Can somebody give an easy way to remember them.

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    This will be a good question. But I'm too lazy to post answer. There's a general rule of thumb for this, it's known as I before E except after C – user178049 Mar 12 '17 at 9:52
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    Just as a general comment: English has borrowed words from many different languages over time, which is where most of these inconsistencies come from. Also, standardized spelling is a relatively recent invention in English. As the answers below mention, there's a common rule of thumb that works most of the time, but it's not 100% reliable. Unfortunately, English spelling has to be learned mainly by rote. – John Bode Mar 12 '17 at 17:44
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    If you want to get totally confused by english spelling and pronounciation, I recommend the poem "The Chaos", by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité. There are numerous videos, like this one where people are reading it out loud, so you can compare the pronounciation to the spelling. – maddin45 Mar 13 '17 at 8:48
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Sure, you can follow the rule of thumb "i before e, except after c." Problem is, it's got plenty of exceptions.

vein, seize, species, science, weird, their, etc.

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but the only way to remember some of these idiosyncrasies of the English language is to practice and commit them to memory.

For further explanation...The word receive comes from the Anglo-Norman French receivre, so it most likely just carried its letter order over. The word relieve, however, comes from the Old French relever. Well, there's no "i" in there, so why is there one in English? There just is, I guess. If the word were spelled releve, it would likely have the same pronunciation...but for some reason we decided to throw an "i" in there.*

I know it won't help with your exams, but if it makes you feel better, plenty of native speakers frequently mix up the spelling of both of these words.

*From @hvd's comment below - it looks like the word may have had two variants in Old French: "According to http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/relieve and http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/relever#Old_French, it had two distinct stems in Old French, relev and reliev. The former was used for the infinitive relever, the latter was the likely source of the "i" in English".

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    @Mesentery I'm sorry if my comment annoys you, but I recommend you read this Not so fast!(When should I accept my answer). – user178049 Mar 12 '17 at 10:16
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    Some of those aren’t really exceptions to the rule; that rule is only supposed to be applied when the ie or ei combination makes the “long e” sound. So vein, science, and their really shouldn’t be on that list. On the other hand, seize is a valid exception, while species is a very interesting one. – J.R. Mar 12 '17 at 10:18
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    "Well, there's no "i" in there, so why is there one in English? There just is, I guess." -- According to en.wiktionary.org/wiki/relieve and en.wiktionary.org/wiki/relever#Old_French, it had two distinct stems in Old French, relev and reliev. The former was used for the infinitive relever, the latter was the likely source of the "i" in English. Disclaimer: I do not know how trustworthy Wiktionary is. – hvd Mar 12 '17 at 13:10
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use this thumb rule...

I before an E, except before a C, and when you hear an A, say its name

Hopefully this helps

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    Hi Enigma, welcome to ELL. But WikiPedia has a mouthful explanation for this principle. And as stated in your answer, it's a rule of thumb, not a cut-and-dried solution, there are many exceptions that are worth mentioning. – user178049 Mar 12 '17 at 10:01
  • Yeah ! It is a good idea . But as I was thinking the word 'society' came into my mind.but it's good for the words I said – user237650 Mar 12 '17 at 10:01
  • Combining the two answers, the rule-of-thumb rhyme goes "i" before "e" except after "c", or when sounded like "a" as in "neighbor" or "weigh". – Izkata Mar 12 '17 at 21:00

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