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  • English Spelling Advice: Double Consonants

    Teaching English spelling makes me feel like this guy... but it's still important!

    I’ve just realized that one of the aspects of learning English we almost never write about here is English spelling. This also happens to be one of the most difficult parts of English, both for non-native and native speakers.

    English, as I’m sure you know if you’re reading this, is not a phonetic language. So the words are not always spelled the way they are pronounced. There is some logic to the spelling though, as we’ll see with double consonants.

    Look at these words with double consonants. Which is correct?

    Acted or Actted?

    Planned or Planed?

     

    Here’s the rule. If the original word is just one syllable and ends with a consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) then we double the last consonant. So with the words above, the original words are act and plan. Both are one syllable, but act ends in two consonants and plan ends in CVC. Therefore we write acted and planned.

    Now we will look at words with two syllables. Which is correct?

    Traveled or Travelled?

    Prefered or Preferred?

    Once again, we look at the origin of the word. If it end in CVC, we only double the consonant if the stress, when pronounced, is on the second syllable. This is where it becomes important to take lessons with native English speakers, and practice your listening exercises, so you can hear where the stress should be. The roots of the words above are travel and prefer. In travel, the stress is at the beginning, in prefer the stress is at the end of the word. So we write traveled and preferred.

    How was that? Any questions? Let us know in comments, or schedule a class and we can help!

    • Violet

      This was a very useful and easy to understand explanation. Thanks.

    • ANA

      Sorry, I’m not a native, but this is not right!! WE WRITE TRAVELLED!!

      • LOIEnglish

        Hahaha! Actually it is correct. traveled is American English and travelled is British English. We spell several things differently. Another good example is: jewelry or jewellry also marvelous or marvellous. Something similar happens with the ‘m’ programme or program. Both forms are completely acceptable however you shouldn’t mix the two spellings in your writing. Choose a style you are comfortable with and write in that style don’t mix. Hope this helps! Thanks for the comment!