Blog/Grammar tips
17 July 2023
2 min read

Mastering the Art of Spelling: Doubling Consonants When Adding Suffixes

Flawless spelling is a crucial aspect of effective writing. Among the many challenges encountered, one common stumbling block is determining when to double consonants before adding suffixes. Understanding the rules governing this spelling nuance is essential for achieving precision and finesse in your writing. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of doubling consonants when incorporating suffixes, equipping you with the knowledge to elevate your spelling skills and sidestep common pitfalls. Join us as we unravel the secrets!

The Guiding Principle of Doubling Consonants:

When appending a suffix to a word, a general principle prevails: double the last consonant if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The word comprises a single syllable.
  • The final syllable of the word bears the primary stress.
  • The word culminates in a solitary consonant, preceded by a single vowel.

For example:

  • Run + ing = running
  • Big + er = bigger
  • Fit + ed = fitted

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Instances Contravening the Rule:

While adhering to the principle of doubling consonants is beneficial in most cases, certain exceptions warrant attention. Familiarizing yourself with these exceptions will fortify your spelling prowess.

Some common exceptions include:

  • Words culminating in "x," "w," or "y": In these instances, the consonants remain unaltered. For instance, "box + es = boxes" and "play + ing = playing."
  • Words ending in "l" or "s": Typically, doubling consonants is unnecessary for these words. Examples include "travel + ing = traveling" and "pass + ed = passed."

The Significance of Syllables:

Proficiency in discerning syllables is pivotal for determining when consonants should be doubled. Familiarize yourself with the following principles:

  • A syllable encompasses a vowel sound.
  • Hyphens serve as dividers between syllables.

For example:

  • Ap-ple (two syllables)
  • Ham-mer (two syllables)
  • Bet-ter (two syllables)

Doubling Consonants in the Face of Suffixes:

When attaching suffixes commencing with a vowel (e.g., "-ed" or "-ing"), double the consonant if it meets the aforementioned rule's criteria. However, if the suffix commences with a consonant, doubling the consonant is unnecessary.

For example:

  • Hop + ed = hopped
  • Swim + ing = swimming
  • Run + er = runner
  • Drop + ing = dropping


Mastering the intricacies of doubling consonants when incorporating suffixes is an indispensable skill for bolstering your spelling acumen. By assimilating and applying these guidelines, you will confidently navigate the labyrinth of spelling conventions and evade common pitfalls. Remember to factor in syllable count, stress patterns, and exceptions when employing these rules. With dedicated practice, you will witness a remarkable improvement in your spelling prowess, empowering you to elevate the overall quality of your writing. Embrace the journey to spelling excellence with enthusiasm. Happy spelling!

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