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Free Spelling Lessons

Doubling Consonants When Adding Suffixes

Teacher and students seated at a table

Use our step-by-step free spelling lessons for spelling success! You and your students will gain confidence in spelling in some confusing words by  progressing methodically through key concepts.

In this free printable spelling lesson, you’ll learn when to double and when not to double the final consonant in a word when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. Shown here are just a few of the steps in this important lesson. This lesson is suitable for grades 5 and up, including ESL and adults.  Use this list of words for more practice.

phone reading "911"


Find the misspelled words.

Mary listened carefully before enterring the room. Once she decided it was safe, she quietly openned the door and crept inside. Suddenly, an ear-spliting sound sent her runing outside. She spotted the thieves joging to their car. Prefering not to get involved in a chase, she dialled 9-1-1.

Check your answers before continuing.

entering, opened, ear-splitting, running, jogging, Preferring, dialed

Step One

Begin to memorize this rule:

A. If a word with the accent on the last (or only) syllable
B. has a single final consonant
C. that is preceded by a single vowel,
D. then when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel,
E. you double the final consonant.

 It’s not as hard as it looks, when you examine it Step by Step!

Step Two

Let’s start with clap and go through each portion of the rule as we add the suffix -ed.

A. Is the accent on the last or only syllable? Yes, it’s a one syllable word.
B. Does it have a final consonant? Yes, p
C. Is the consonant preceded by a short vowel? Yes, short a.
D Does the suffix –ed begin with a vowel. Yes, e
E. Should you double the final consonant? Yes, clapped.

Follow this same exercise with one-syllable words. Write each new word that you form.

 win + ing      bat + er      play + ed

 sit + ing       slow + est      nod + ing  

 Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

Step Three

Continuing with this free spelling lesson,  we’ll now look at some two-syllable words. Here the accent is important. Let’s begin with differ plus the suffix -ent and go through the five steps again.

 A. Is the accent on the last syllable? No. It’s pronounced DIF – fer.

We do not need to go through the rest of the steps. Although the word has a final consonant, and we’re adding a suffix that begins with a vowel, we do not double the r because the accent is on the first syllable. The new word is correctly spelled different.

 Now consider forgot + -en.

A. Is the accent on the last syllable? Yes. We say  for – GOT.
B. Does it have a final consonant? Yes, t.
C. Is the final consonant preceded by a short vowel? Yes, short o.
D. Does the suffix begin with a vowel? Yes, e.
E. Should we double the final consonant? Yes, forgotten.

 Complete the steps above as you form these new words.

  • control + able     submit + ing      begin + ing  
  • regret + able       transmit + er       forbid + en 
  • shovel + ing        enter + ing     equip + ed

Practice before proceeding...

Now practice what you’ve learned in the first three steps.

 1. My puppy gave me the (big + est) _____________, (wet +est) _________kiss ever!

 2. The back tire is even (flat + er) ___________ than the front one. We’ll need to get it (repair + ed) ____________.

 3. The boss (refer + ed) _________ to problems in the ...

There's much, more more to this lesson! Print the entire free spelling lesson to see all the steps needed to master this important spelling skill. You can check your answers, too!

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