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
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;
requires stamina and coordination.
(2) If it is used as a
verbal adjective, it is called a participle:
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 =
(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 =
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.
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