Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Skiing With Two I’s




Marlene wrote, “My daughter-in-law phoned me this morning (after your show with Ron Jolly) about the word skiing.  She was teaching her children (my adorable grandchildren) spelling at the time.  They are home schooled. Why does skiing have 2 i's ?  I told her you would know.”

The first - i - in skiing is there simply because it is part of the verb to ski. The second - i - is there because it is part of the suffix -ing. The suffix -ing indicates that the core word was a verb: I was skiing when I broke my arm.

But an -ing verb can be used in two other combinations:
(1) If it is used as a verbal noun, it is called a gerund;
     Skiing requires stamina and coordination.

(2) If it is used as a verbal adjective, it is called a participle:
     My skiing instructor once competed in the Olympics.

As far as spelling goes, two rules are germane in this case:

(a) when you add a suffix beginning with a vowel to a base word ending in a vowel that is pronounced, all letters are retained:
     ski + -ing = skiing             moo + -ing = mooing          see + -ing = seeing

(b) but when you add a suffix beginning with a vowel to a base word ending in a vowel that is silent, drop the silent vowel before adding -ing.
     sue + -ing = suing            love + -ing = loving             make + -ing = making

Spelling rules can be difficult and inconsistent, mainly because so many words have come into English from foreign languages where the sounds and spelling systems are different.

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

Nook edition

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Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.




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