I Before E, Except After C Rule Left to D-I-E

Is nothing sacred anymore? After decades of having the rule (it was even made into a Charlie Brown song), the British government is ditching it:

Advice sent to teachers says there are too few words which follow the rule and recommends using more modern methods to teach spelling to schoolchildren.

The document, entitled Support for Spelling, is being distributed to more than 13,000 primary schools. [...]

It says: "The i before e rule is not worth teaching. It applies only to words in which the ie or ei stands for a clear ee sound. Unless this is known, words such as sufficient and veil look like exceptions.

"There are so few words where the ei spelling for the ee sounds follows the letter c that it is easier to learn the specific words." These include receive, ceiling, perceive and deceit.

The document recommends other ways to teach pupils spelling, like studying television listings for compound words, changing the tense of a poem to practise irregular verbs and learning about homophones through jokes such as "How many socks in a pair? None — because you eat a pear."


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I disagree vehemently with the idea that the rule has so many exceptions that it is not worth teaching. Where the i/e combination forms a dipthong, it should be obvious to anyone who pronounces the word correctly which combination is required. The base rhyme "I before E after 'C' and in words which sound like 'A,' ... like neighbor, weigh, etc" covers most of the common words. The remaining exceptions are easily memorized. At least I have found this to be the case in American English. If we have completely succumbed to the sloth tendency that any pronunciation and definition is acceptable, then I stand corrected. {;^D)
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"Lent" is indeed a word. It is the past participle of "lend".

lent (LEND)
past simple and past participle of lend

eg I lent her my handkerchief.

Learnt is the past simple and past participle of learn.

eg He learnt his lesson.

"Learned" is defined thus:
adjective FORMAL
describes someone who has studied for a long time and has a lot of knowledge:

eg a learned professor

From Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

The other words you cited fall into the same category. Americans attempt to distort the language but for reference you should always consult an English, English dictionary if you are going to complain about the use of allegedly, non-existent words. Especially as this topic is about the English not the Americans.
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While I enjoy that Brits spell "color" as "colour" (and the spell checker on this site doesn't like "colour") it's understandable that they have problems spelling. Consider these words: learnt for learned, burnt for burned, towards for toward. Most people these days have difficulty spelling or speaking. People use words that don't even exist such as lent for loaned.
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