Think of these words: wall, kitten, cotton, butter, gutter. You have probably come across these words before but find yourself always misspelling them because you forgot to include the double consonant.
It is one of the biggest challenges English learners face, knowing when to use double consonants while writing.
Double consonants are not as obvious when speaking, but very noticeable when mised (missed) in writen (written) English, as we have tried to demonstrate in this sentence.
Unless a word is naturally written with a double consonant, (for example bull, grass, bless), double consonants are usually included when adding a suffix.
So, how do we use double consonants and when should they be added? Understanding the grammar rules may help you avoid those little spelling mistakes.
Double Consonants and the C-V-C Rule.
One syllable words like the ones below follow an easy to remember rule: Consonant – Vowel – Consonant.
When the final three letters of a word finish with the C-V-C, a double consonant is usually added for suffixes like er/est/ed/ing.
- Big Bigger
- Sad Saddest
- Stop Stopped
The only words that don’t follow this rule are words ending with the consonants w, x, y, z. For example:
- Blow Blowing
- Easy Easier
Syllables and their effect with Double Consonants
Words with more than one syllable are a little more difficult because including a double consonant will depend on which syllable of the word is stressed.
When the stress is placed on the first syllable, don’t add another consonant.
- Spi-rit – spirited
- Wa-ter – watering
- Prin-t – printer
However, when the second syllable of the word is stressed, an additional consonant is required. The good thing is that there are much fewer of these kinds of words in English!
- Be-gin – beginning
If you can think of any other words that have the second syllable stressed leave a comment below. Just remember to check that your example follows the rules given.
These ground rules are what you will need to remember when writing more than speaking. When speaking focus on your pronunciation, over time, you will be able to hear the difference and identify if a double consonant is being used or not more quickly.
Did you enjoy our explanation of double consonants? Then let us know with a comment! Our website has other fantastic posts too; we encourage you to take a few minutes to explore them.