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Spelling reminder: similar words with double/single consonants

Harold Wilson

Long ago, I read a story where a guy went fishing for "strippers".

Long ago, I read a story where a guy was dating a "striper."

Today, I read a story where a boat needed to be "scrapped."

Also, an agreement was made, "baring" unforeseen events.

It's worth pointing this out: there are a lot of words that differ by only a single repeated letter. Stripper/striper, barring/baring, scraped/scrapped are examples.

If you're using the wrong one, a spell checker probably won't flag it because both forms are valid. A grammar checker might not flag it if both words are the same part of speech (which they will be, if the end with -er, -ed, or -ing).

Your best bet is to remember that a single consonant usually indicates a long vowel in front (baring sounds like bearing or Bering) while a double consonant usually means a short vowel sound (barring sounds like "bar" followed by "ring").

Or, put another way, strippers and stripers can both invole a pole dance, but a "stripper" is a girl you don't take home to mom, while a "striper" is a kind of fish.

Similarly, if you "scraped" a boat you removed the barnacles from the hull, while if you "scrapped" the boat it's in the junkyard now.

sunkuwan

@Harold Wilson

I always cringe with Raper/Rapper

Replies:   richardshagrin  Keet
richardshagrin

@sunkuwan

Raper/Rapper

and rapist.

A few spaces distinguish Physiotherapist from Physio the rapist.

awnlee jawking

@Harold Wilson

In Britland, buses are multiple vehicles and busses are quasi-kisses. (We don't buss tables.)

I'm not 100% certain but USland might differ officially as well as unofficially.

AJ

Replies:   PotomacBob
Keet

@sunkuwan

Raper/Rapper

If you hear some of the texts rappers 'sing' you might think both words mean the same.

anim8ed

Diner at the dinner instead of dinner at the diner...
Supper and super

Ernest Bywater

I've seen writers who write waste when they mean waist - based on the context. However, I frequently have to check the dictionary to make sure I'm using dessert and desert correctly.

Switch Blayde

The most common one I recall is "starred" instead of "stared."

Switch Blayde
Updated:

And for you American spellers, the stress of the syllable in multi-syllable words determines whether or not it's a double consonant.

emphasis on 2nd syllable = double
on 1st = single

beginning
visiting

tendertouch

Dessert / desert catches a lot of people, probably because the normal rule about how the single consonant changes the vowel doesn't apply. I've screwed it up so often that I usually remember it now.

The one that annoys me the most is sort of the opposite of the OPs point - loose / lose. Instead of the doubled consonant the vowel is doubled and changes the sound of the consonant. That may be part of why it trips up so many people.

Dominions Son

@Harold Wilson

Today, I read a story where a boat needed to be "scrapped."


In regards to scraped/scrapped, divorced from any larger context, the above sentence can make sense both ways.

A boat hull might need to be scraped to remove algae or barnacles, and boats do get scrapped if they are too badly damaged or too deteriorated from age to be cost effectively repaired.

Keet

Some authors don't seem to know the difference between 'organism' and 'orgasm'. I feel sorry for those authors because they miss one of the more fun things in life ;)

oldegrump

There are several that catch me out; quite for quiet close for clothes; there for their; form for from; I knows that they are not the double letter problem, but they are still irritatingly seen often.

When I proof my stories, those are the ones I catch the most.

My problem is I don't speak English, I speak Midwestern American. English is much easier to follow the rules.

awnlee jawking

@oldegrump

close for clothes


I don't think I've seen that one, but cloths for clothes seems unfortunately common :(

AJ

Switch Blayde

@oldegrump

quite for quiet


very common mistake

StarFleet Carl

@oldegrump

I speak Midwestern American


Tell me about it. I'm from Indiana, now live in Oklahoma.

Since BJ Jones is now the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (for those who aren't reading it, it's a story on here) - remember, there's only a space between the IRS and theirs regarding your money.

Also, I still tend to mess up passed and past.

Replies:   richardshagrin
anim8ed

patients for patience grrr that will throw me every time I see it.

samuelmichaels

@anim8ed

patients for patience grrr that will throw me every time I see it.

If the story is good, I have patience for these kinds of errors.

I remember visiting Las Vegas where the land was mostly just deserts. I guess that was my just deserts for picking that as a destination. To compensate, my buffet lunch was just desserts.

Ernest Bywater

@anim8ed

patients for patience grrr that will throw me every time I see it.


Yeah, the word order is important as a nurse does require patience for patients to do their work. It's like the difference between study hall where students study many subjects and hall study where architectural students examine the way a hall is built.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

hall study where architectural students examine the way a hall is built.


Corridors, dining halls, dance halls, or music halls?

richardshagrin

@StarFleet Carl

Internal Revenue Service

The Infernal Revenue. See R Vice.

PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

I'm not 100% certain but USland might differ officially as well as unofficially.


There is no "official" spelling in the U.S. You're allowed to screw up the language any way you wish. Dictionaries, style books, etc., provide guidelines, but they are not "official."

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