Ask the Editor
When do you double the consonant at the end of a verb, before adding –ed or –ing? — Pasam G, Tanzania
SPELLING RULES FOR VERBS WITH -ING AND -ED ENDINGS
When a verb ends in a consonant, sometimes the consonant is doubled before adding the –ed or –ing ending, like this:
stop --> stopped, stopping
- Lucy stopped the car.
- Why was Lucy stopping the car?
And sometimes the final consonant is not doubled, like this:
shift --> shifted, shifting
- Sandy shifted the gears.
- Sandy was shifting the gears too much.
To know when to double the final consonant, follow the rules below.
- In a word with 1 syllable, double the final consonant ONLY if the word ends in 1 vowel + 1 consonant.
- In a word with 2 or more syllables, double the final consonant ONLY if the word ends in 1 vowel + 1 consonant AND the final syllable is stressed.
- At the end of a word, don’t count w, x, or y as a consonant.
APPLYING THE RULES
These verbs get a doubled final consonant:
- tip / He tipped the waiter. /He isn't tipping the waiter.
- cram / The students crammed for the test. /The students were cramming for the test.
- regret / Carl regretted the things he had said. /Carl was regretting the things he had said.
These verbs do not get a doubled final consonant:
- vote --> voted, voting (vote ends in a vowel)
- instruct --> instructed, instructing (instruct ends in 2 consonants)
- listen --> listened, listening (listen has 2 syllables and the final syllable is not stressed)