ING-lish: Rule 4 For Adding -ING to Verbs in English

By Gillian Hendrie

This final article in the series sets out the consonant doubling rule when adding -ing to verbs in English.

English Rules Learn how to spell the progressive (or continuous) form of verbs. As we have seen in the first article (ING-lish: Spelling the -ing Form of Verbs Correctly, Rule 1), forming continuous verbs is, unfortunately, not a simple matter of attaching -ing to the basic verb. These rules will help you to pick up on the "awkward" verbs and learn to spell these forms correctly.

Rule 4: Double Consonants after Short Vowels

In verbs ending with consonant + vowel + consonant, you should double the final consonant before adding -ing.

Examples:

  • run - Hurry up! We're running out of time.
  • hop - She's hopping on one leg.
  • beg - I'm begging you to come home.
  • swim - Let's go swimming tomorrow.
  • ship - The marines are shipping out next week.

Note also the doubling in the verb put, even though the vowel is not short:

  • put - Isn't that sweet? He's putting his arm around his mother.

QU as a Consonant

Verbs ending with qu + vowel + consonant follow the same rule. This is because the u is acting for the consonant sound /w/ in the verb.

Examples:

  • quit - He says he's quitting his job next month.
  • equip - The coach is equipping the team with a new strip.
  • squat - We found them squatting behind the bushes.

Exceptions

1. Verbs of more than one syllable do not double the consonant if the stress is not on the final syllable.

  • admit: The stress is on the final syllable, so we double the consonant. After admitting to the crime, the man was taken into custody.
  • visit: The stress is on the first syllable, so the consonant is not doubled. She's visiting her aunt on Sunday.

2. The letters h,w, x and y are never doubled.

  • fix - She's fixing her broken stereo.
  • paw - The mad dog was pawing the ground.
  • watch - I'm watching you!
  • say - What are you saying?