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Vocabulary - SAT, TOEFL, GRE Test Preparation
3.17 Word Endings and Doubling Consonants

There is a special rule for doubling consonants before adding a suffix to a word that ends in a VC pattern. You may already know that you need to double the last consonant in words like stop (stopped), tap (tapping), and run (running). But what about words like defer, confer, occur, or offer? Why do we double the final "r" on some words but not on others?

Rule: If a word ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, and is accented on the final syllable, then you need to double the final consonant before adding a suffix beginning with a vowel (such as -ed, -ing, -ence). If the accent shifts to the first syllable with the addition of the suffix, do not double the final consonant.

Say each of the following words out loud, and note which syllable is accented:
Example 1:
Defer
Deferred
Deferring
Deference

Notice how in each word, except the last, you stressed ending syllable (fer), so we double the "r" before adding the suffix. In the last word, however, the stressed syllable is the first syllable (def), and therefore, we do not double the "r" before adding the suffix.

Example 2:
Offer
Offered
Offering

Here, the stressed syllable is the first syllable (off), so we do not double the "r".

This same rule applies with words ending in any single consonant that has a single vowel in front of it.
Example 1:
Begin
Beginning

Here, the last syllable is stressed (gin), so we double the final consonant.

Example 2:
Open
Opened
Opening

Here, the first syllable is stressed (o), so we do not double the final consonant.

One exception to this rule is many words that end in "w", such as snow/snowing, allow/allowing, and show/showing.


Directions: Choose the correct answer to the following questions. Try to think of at least five more example words that require their ending consonants to be doubled (use words that end in different consonants; i.e. "r", "n", etc.). Use all the words in sentences.
Q 1: Confer
Conference
Confering

Q 2: Incur
Incuring
Incurring

Q 3: Transfer
Transfering
Transferring

Q 4: Prefer
Preferred
Prefered

Q 5: Occur
Occurred
Occured

Q 6: Refer
Refering
Referring

Q 7: Confer
Conferred
Confered

Q 8: Plow
Plowing
Plowwing

Question 9: This question is available to subscribers only!

Question 10: This question is available to subscribers only!


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