Spelling of Vb-ing

Updated: May 18

*Excerpt from the forthcoming grammar book Practical English: Theory and Exercises, Book 2. For Practical English: Theory and Exercises, Book 1, go to Publications



A verb ending in -ing is either a present participle or a gerund. The two forms look identical, but they have different functions in a sentence.




Mini-glossary of spelling terminology


Ending = a small particle of a letter or more that is added to the end of a word.

  • Vb-s

  • Vb-es

  • Vb-ing

Letter = a symbol used in writing a language as a correspondent of a sound in the respective language

  • letters N, n

Consonant sound = a sound pronounced without letting the air flow freely through the mouth

  • sounds /b/, /g/, /l/, /p/, /s/

Vowel sound = a sound pronounced by letting the air flow freely through the mouth

  • sounds /ɑ:/, /e/, /ɔ:/

Consonant (letter) = the letter corresponding to a consonant sound

  • letters b, g, l, p, s

Vowel (letter) = the letter corresponding to a vowel sound

  • letters a, e, i, o, u

Syllable = one unit of speech usually containing a vowel sound

  • syll-a-ble (the word syllable has three syllables)

Monosyllabic word = a word that consists of one syllable

  • stop

Disyllabic word = a verb/word that consists of two syllables

  • en-gage

Trisyllabic word = a word that consists of three syllables; some dictionaries consider three-syllable words as polysyllabic

  • con-sid-er

Polysyllabic word = a word that consists of three or more syllables

  • re-con-si-der

Derivative = a word form made from another word form

  • the verb overtax is a derivative of the verb tax

  • the noun applicability is a derivative of the adjective applicable

Stress/Accent = the pronunciation of a syllable or two syllables with greater force than the other syllables in the same word

  • cover

  • attract

Stress mark = a specific symbol such as a small vertical line that is placed before the stressed syllable of a word

  • cover /'kʌvə(r)/

Stressed syllable = the syllable that carries the most stress or the second most stress in a word


Primary stress = the most stress in a word


Primary stress mark = a specific symbol such as a small vertical line that is placed above the line of print and before the syllable that carries the most stress

  • attract /ə'trækt/

Secondary stress = the second most stress in the word

  • disrespect

Secondary stress mark = a specific symbol such as a small vertical line that is placed below the line of print and before the syllable that carries the second most stress

  • disrespect / ̦dısrı'spekt/

Precede = a word or letter going before another word or letter

  • come -> consonant letter m is preceded by the vowel letter o

  • Listen to the counsel of your lawyer! -> noun counsel is preceded by definite article the

The following are the spelling rules of the -ing form of the English verbs.


Note:

a. The verbs listed below can have more meanings than the ones written in the tables.

b. For checking all the meanings of the verbs listed below, see a good dictionary.


Rule 1

Verbal endings usually alter the basic form Vb1.

  • write -> writing

  • decide -> deciding

Rule 2

When regular and irregular verbs (Vb1) end in silent -e, we drop the final -e before adding -ing.


Vb-ɇ + -ing => Vb-ing

Exception

There are some verbs that do not obey Rule 2.

Vb-e + -ing => Vb-eing

Rule 3

When regular and irregular verbs (Vb1) end in -ee, we simply add -ing to their basic form.

Vb-ee + -ing => Vb-eeing

Rule 4

When regular and irregular verbs (Vb1) end in -ie, we change -ie to -y before adding -ing.

Vb-ie + -ing => Vb-ying

Rule 5

When regular and irregular verbs (Vb1) end in -ic, we change -ic to -ick before adding -ing.

Vb-ic + -ing => Vb-icking

Rule 6

When monosyllabic verbs (Vb1) end in a consonant preceded by one single vowel we double the final consonant before adding -ing.

Exception

There are some verbs that do not obey Rule 6.

Rule 7

When monosyllabic verbs (Vb1) or derivatives of monosyllabic verbs end in -w or -x preceded by one single vowel, we simply add -ing to their basic form, without any change.

Vb-x + -ing -> Vb-xing

Vb-w + -ing -> Vb -wing

Rule 8

When verbs (Vb1) are disyllabic or polysyllabic, with their last syllable stressed and their final consonant preceded by one single vowel, we double their final consonant before adding -ing.

Exception

When some regular verbs are disyllabic or polysyllabic, with their first syllable stressed and their final consonant preceded by one single vowel, we double their final consonant before -ing.

Rule 9

When regular verbs (Vb1) end in -l preceded by one single vowel or two vowels pronounced separately, we double final -l before -ing.

Vb-l + -ing => Vb-lling

Exception

a. In American English, when regular verbs (Vb1) end in -ll preceded by one single vowel, we keep final -ll before -ing.

Vb-ll + -ing => Vb-lling

b. In American English, when regular verbs (Vb1) end in -l preceded by one single vowel or two vowels pronounced separately, we do not double final -l before -ing.

Vb-l + -ing => Vb-ling

c. In American English, when some regular verbs (Vb1) have their last syllable stressed, we double final -l before -ing. (see Rule 8)

Rule 10

When verbs (Vb1) end in -y, we simply add -ing to their basic form.

Vb-y + -ing => Vb-ying

Rule 11

When verbs (Vb1) do not fall under any of the above-mentioned rules, we simply add -ing to their basic form.

Vb + -ing => Vb-ing

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