Time for a new entry into our hard words to spell in English list: Should we write receive or recieve — with an “ei,” or “ie?” In a related question, is the spelling received or recieved? What about receiver or reciever? Today we’ll learn how to spell receive (and all its variants) correctly by using three simple tricks… including a very silly one.
As background, my name is Lillie, and I’ve been an English teacher for nearly two decades. I’m also an artist, so each of my lessons — such as the recent one about “Weither vs. Weather and Whether” — is illustrated by my hand-drawn cartoons.
Receive vs. Recieve
Let’s get the easiest part of this out of the way: the word “recieve” (with an “ie” after the “c”) doesn’t exist. It is an incorrect spelling, but is one of those commonly misspelled words that people see so often that they forget it’s wrong.
In short; don’t use “recieve.” Throw it in the trash can, along with “truley” and “greatful!” Instead, know that the correct spelling for “receive,” is with an “ei” after the “c”… but how do we remember this confusing letter order?
Spell Receive, Receiver, and Received
There are several tricks to keep the correct spelling of received, receiver, and receive in mind. Here are three, in order from most formal and well-known… to the most silly, unique, and ridiculous answer.
1. The rhyme “i” before “e” except after “c” works!
Though it has many exceptions, the spelling rhyme, “‘i’ before ‘e,’ except after ‘c'” holds true to correctly spell “receive.” Indeed, because it’s after “c,” you put the “e” before the “i.”
I’ll also note that the rule holds true to remember the correct spelling of “friend,” and avoid writing the non-word, “freind.” With “friend,” there’s no “c,” so you put the “i” before the “e.”
2. The middle of “receive” is in alphabetical order.
Since I’ve taken on an additional job as a school librarian, alphabetical or “ABC” order has become increasingly of interest. In fact, it can help us remember how to spell receive. Let me show you how.
First, divide the word “receive” like this, so the middle three letters (the ones that cause us so much confusion every time) are isolated: “re-CEI-ve.” Next, look at the “CEI” and realize: it’s in alphabetical order when spelled correctly!
3. Remember: “I’ve” and “Eaten It.”
Ok, this memory scheme is silly and complicated… but it might just do the trick of remembering how to spell received and receive correctly! (A similar tactic worked for how to spell definitely, right?) See my illustration above to help you visualize this. Ready?
First, imagine someone (ideally a poofy monster or other cute animal drawing) asking, “Did you receive the candy?” Now picture a second one answering, “Yes, I’ve received it… and have eaten it, too! (BURP.)”
Why the heck will this help us to recall spelling? Listen: First, the “I’ve” helps cement that “receIVE” ends with the letters “I-V-E.” Second, the phrase “Eaten It” has the initials “E-I” which can reinforce that we spell “recEIve” with an “E-I” in the middle, not “I-E.” Hehe… silly but effective?
VIDEO: Receive or Recieve?
Can You Spell Receive and Received Now?
I hope these three tricks to remember how to spell receive, received, and receiver have been useful, and maybe even made you smile. Now let’s banish “recieve” to the forest with the other misspellings, “firey” and “seperated!” Which words should I explain and illustrate next? Do share!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009), TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010), and ReikiColors.com. Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!