Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spelling: adding suffixes

Brad from Charlevoix expressed exasperation over a spelling issue: deciding whether to double a letter when you add a suffix to a word. It is an issue only if the word ends in a consonant (not a-, e-, i-, o-, or u-). Words ending in a vowel have their own separate problems.

When you add a suffix to a word that ends in two or more consonants side by side, there is no spelling change.
            fill + -ing = filling        snarl + -ed = snarled       world + -ly = worldly

When you add a suffix to a word that ends in a single consonant, the consonant will be doubled if you can answer YES to all 3 of the following questions:

(1) Does the suffix begin with a vowel?
            YES:  -ing, -er, -able                 NO:  -ment, -ful, -ly

(2) Are the last 3 letters of the word a consonant-vowel-consonant in that exact order?
            YES: run, win, forget                 NO:  arm, cry, treat

(3) Does the accent of the word fall on the last syllable? [Single syllable is a yes]
            YES: run, forget, repel              NO: benefit, remember, channel

If you answer NO to any one of the questions above, do not double the final consonant.
            forget + -ful = forgetful            (1) 
            treat + ed = treated                    (2)        
            benefit + ing = benefiting         (3)

[Source: Handbook for Basic Writers by Michael Sheehan & Nancy Sheehan]

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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