Spelling rules: doubling up
Remember this English spelling rule
Spelling rules: Doubling up
There are so many spelling rules and it can be difficult to remember them all when you are learning English (and even if you do remember the rule, sometimes it doesn’t always apply, for instance the ‘I before E rule’). However, the doubling rule, or the 1-1-1 rule works in every instance.
The spelling rule
The spelling rule is: if the word has 1 syllable (a word with one vowel sound), 1 vowel and it ends in 1 consonant, you double the final consonant before you add ‘ing’, ‘ed’, ‘er’, ‘est’ (also known as a suffixal vowel). You don’t double the consonant if the word ends in ‘tion’ (also known as a suffixal consonant).
So, if the word has:
- 1 syllable
- 1 vowel
- 1 consonant, which follows the vowel
You double up the last consonant, to make a suffixal vowel (running/ runner, jogging, stopping/stopped).
For example: The word ‘run’
- It has 1 syllable
- It has 1 vowel – ‘u’
- And it has 1 consonant that follows the vowel – ‘n’
In this instance, you double the last consonant to make the word ‘running’.
- Run = Running
- Stop = Stopping/Stopped
- Big = Bigger
- Quiz = Quizzes
- Fat = Fatter/ Fattest
Words that have more than one consonant after the vowel don’t double, e.g. ‘lift’ has two consonants ‘f’ and ‘t’, so you don’t double the last consonant, instead you just add the suffixal vowel: ‘lifting’.
For words that have a long ‘e’ vowel on the end, for example grade, slide, hate, you drop the ‘e’ before adding ‘ing’ or ‘ed’, without doubling the last consonant. E.g. Grade becomes ‘grading’ or ‘graded’.
Words with more than one syllable
The doubling rule can also be used for words with more than one syllable, however these words must end in a single consonant and the primary stress must be on the final syllable.
So, if the word has:
- More than 1 syllable
- Ends in 1 consonant
- The final consonant follows a vowel, and that vowel is bearing primary stress
You double up the last consonant, to make a suffixal vowel. Just like with a single syllable word, you don’t double the last consonant for a suffixal consonant.
For example: The word ‘begin’
- It has more than 1 syllable (2 syallables – be-gin)
- It has 1 vowel that bears the primary stress – ‘i’
- And it has 1 consonant that follows the primary stress bearing vowel, in this instance – ‘n’
In this instance, you double the last consonant to make the word ‘beginning’.
- Control = Controlling/Controlled
- Regret = Regretting/Regretted
However, if the primary stress is not on the last syllable then you do not double the consonant. E.g. ‘open’ becomes ‘opening’.