doubling of final consonants in inflection

doubling of final consonants in inflection
doubling of final consonants in inflection
The table below explains the differing practice in English shown by the forms hotter, enrolled, offered, targeted, in which the root word (hot, enrol, offer, target) ends in a single consonant. Practice can also differ with the same word in BrE (e.g. traveller) and AmE (e.g. traveler). A key factor is the position of the stress in each case, and it is therefore useful to distinguish between words of one syllable and words of more than one syllable. The inflections and suffixes which affect the spelling in these ways are: -ed and -ing (in verbs); -er and -est (in adjectives); -er (forming agent nouns such as traveller); and -y (forming adjectives such as rickety or adverbs such as initially).
1. words of one syllable.
Words ending in a single consonant double the consonant when adding any of the suffixes given above:
verbs
beg / begged / begging / beggar
clap / clapped / clapping
dab / dabbed / dabbing
squat / squatted / squatting / squatter
throb / throbbed / throbbing
rub / rubbed / rubbing
An exception is bus (verb, = take people by bus), which has forms bused, busing.
adjectives
fat / fatter / fattest / fatty
glad / gladder / gladdest
wet / wetter / wettest
When the final consonant is w, x, or y this is not doubled:
verbs
tow / towed / towing
vex / vexed / vexing
toy / toyed / toying
When the final consonant is preceded by more than one vowel (other than u in qu), the consonant is not normally doubled:
verbs
boil / boiled / boiling / boiler
clean / cleaned / cleaning / cleaner
squeal / squealed / squealing / squealer
adjectives
clean / cleaner / cleanest / cleanly
loud / louder / loudest / loudly
2. words of more than one syllable.
Words ending in a single consonant double the consonant when the stress is placed on the final syllable:
verbs
allot / allotted / allotting
begin / / beginning / beginner
occur / occurred / occurring / occurrence
prefer / preferred / preferring / preference [sic]
Note the change of stress in preference, which affects the spelling. But the same exception as above applies to w, x, and y:
verbs
guffaw / guffawed / guffawing
relax / relaxed / relaxing
array / arrayed / arraying
Words that are not stressed on the final syllable do not double the consonant unless it is an l:
verbs
audit / audited / auditing / auditor
ballot / balloted / balloting
benefit / benefited / benefiting
bias / biased / biasing
bigot / bigoted
blanket / blanketed / blanketing
budget / budgeted / budgeting
carpet / carpeted / carpeting
chirrup / chirruped / chirruping
cosset / cosseted / cosseting
crochet / crocheted / crocheting
ferret / ferreted / ferreting
fillet / filleted / filleting
focus / focused / focusing
gallop / galloped / galloping
gossip / gossiped / gossiping
hiccup / hiccuped / hiccuping
leaflet / leafleted / leafleting
market / marketed / marketing
offer / offered / offering
picket / picketed / picketing
plummet / plummeted / plummeting
profit / profited / profiting
ricochet / ricocheted / ricocheting
rivet / riveted / riveting
rocket / rocketed / rocketing
target / targeted / targeting
thicken / thickened / thickening
trumpet / trumpeted / trumpeting
visit / visited / visiting / visitor
vomit / vomited / vomiting
Exceptions in BrE:
input / / inputting
output / / outputting
kidnap / kidnapped / kidnapping / kidnapper
worship / worshipped / worshipping / worshipper
In AmE the forms are usually kidnaped, worshiping, etc.
In BrE words ending in t in the above list are the ones most likely to appear with a doubled consonant (under the influence of fitted, fitting), i.e. budgetted, leafletting, etc. Focus also sometimes inflects focussed, focussing. However, it is best to keep to the basic rule in these cases too.
Words ending in -l normally double the l regardless of where the stress is placed in the word:
verbs
annul / annulled / annulling
appal / appalled / appalling
cancel / cancelled / cancelling
channel / channelled / channelling
chisel / chiselled / chiselling
counsel / counselled / counselling / counsellor
dial / dialled / dialling
dishevel / dishevelled / dishevelling
enrol / enrolled / enrolling
extol / extolled / extolling
fulfil / fulfilled / fulfilling
grovel / grovelled / grovelling / groveller
impel / impelled / impelling
initial / initialled / initialling
instil / instilled / instilling
label / labelled / labelling
level / levelled / levelling / leveller
libel / libelled / libelling
marshal / marshalled / marshalling
model / modelled / modelling
panel / panelled / panelling
quarrel / quarrelled / quarrelling
revel / revelled / revelling / reveller
rival / rivalled / rivalling
shovel / shovelled / shovelling
travel / travelled / travelling / traveller
tunnel / tunnelled / tunnelling
adjectives
cruel / crueller / cruellest
Exceptions:
verbs
appeal / appealed / appealing
conceal / concealed / concealing
reveal / revealed / revealing
parallel / paralleled / paralleling
In AmE the final -l is not usually doubled:
BrE / AmE
/ (always) / (usually)
cancel / cancelled / canceled
/ cancelling / canceling
cruel / crueller / crueler
/ cruelly / cruelly [sic]
dial / dialled / dialed
/ dialling / dialing
duel / duelling / dueling
jewel / jeweller / jeweler
/ jewellery / jewelry [sic]
label / labelled / labeled
/ labelling / labeling
marvel / marvelled / marveled
/ marvelling / marveling
travel / travelled / traveled
/ travelling / traveling
/ traveller / traveler

Modern English usage. 2014.

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