focusing or focussing?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by helen n, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. helen n New Member

    UK English
    Which is correct? Are both suddenly OK to use? I would always use focusing, but my computer does not correct focussing. Is this something that has crept in from American English or vice versa??
    Thanks if anyone can answer this for me!
  2. Focalist Senior Member

    European Union, English
    Welcome, Helen

    Even the (Compact) Oxford English Dictionary gives
    so it would appear it's a matter of personal preference.

    Like you I'd always go, though, for focused myself - because that agrees with the usual stress-based rule (enter - entered versus refer - referred, etc.)

  3. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    Just informationally, I have never seen the word spelled as focussing. That looks very strange to me. Focusing looks better to me and focused, not focussed.
  4. quehuong Senior Member

    Vietnam, Vietnamese
    Noun: focus and focuses and focussing

    Verb: focus, focuses or focusses, focusing or focussing, focused or focussed.

    I've used both forms, but when I'm more conscious with spelling then I use the ones with the extra s. Don't exactly know why when both forms are correct. I guess I just want to conform to the rule of consonant-vowel-consonant + the last consonant + the verb inflection(s).
  5. Kimosa New Member

    Actually I think it's American English that has created this shortcut spelling. In my mind the correct spelling is "focussing" and I learned to read over 40 years ago, so the single "s" is newer.
  6. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In this case, it is BrE that allows the option of -ss- or -s-. AmE only allows -s-. Similarly, you can write biassed or biased.
  7. sille New Member

    English - UK
    There is actually a spelling rule for this.
    In British English when a 2 syllable word has the accent on the second syllable and the word ends in one vowel and one consonant (as in focus / travel etc), you must double the last consonant. As far as I am aware American English doesn't apply this rule which is why it uses focusing / traveling and so on.
  8. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    I have never seen biassed written down, though I have, at times, come across focussing.
    I would instinctively regard both as spelling errors.
  9. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I can't comment on this "rule" but it seems to me that the stress in "focus" is on the first syllable, not the second.

    I have always written "focused", for what it is worth.
  10. sille New Member

    English - UK
    This is a vaild spelling/phonetic rule, honest :)!
    Most 2 syllable words when they are nouns or adjectives have the stress on the first syllable, but the stress usually moves to the second syllable when the word becomes a verb.
    Unfortunately I don't have a dictionary to hand to confirm if this is the case with "focus" :eek:.
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi sille

    "Focusing" has the stress on the first syllable, so we don't - or rather shouldn't - double the 's'. As far as I know the "rule" is the same in BrE and AmE, except that BrE doubles an 'l' regardless of where the stress is: travel (stress on first syllable)> travelled BrE, traveled Ame.

    PS: Good to see you posting after several months' membership of the forums: welcome:).
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  12. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Well, my dictionary does not indicate that the verb is pronounced differently from the noun. The second syllable is a schwa, and English does not admit schwas in stressed syllables. I have never heard anyone give second-syllable stress to the verb "focus".
  13. sille New Member

    English - UK
    Thank you for that. ;)
  14. krispolard

    krispolard New Member

    English - UK
    Hi everyone,
    there is a rule about stressed syllables, but it doesn't apply in this case.
    That is the rule that makes us write opening with one 'n' (because stress is on the 'oh' part at the beginning), but beginning with double 'n' (begause stress is on the 'gin' part (second syllable))
    However, in British English we spell two syllable verbs ending in 'l' or 'r' with a double letter in gerund or regular past simple or past participle, even if stress is on the first syllable: travelling, travelled, cancelling, cancelled, referring, referred, preferring, preferred.
    In the same way we write 'focussing' and 'focussed,' although I can't think of any other two syllable verbs ending in single 's' to make a more general rule of it!
  15. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I do use 'focussing', and 'focussed' and I stress the first syllable. (And I suppose I do it because I can! :D) However, 'referring', 'preferring', etc receive second-syllable stress for me.
  16. krispolard

    krispolard New Member

    English - UK
    - sillie,
    some nouns change stress to the second syllable when they become verbs, like desert and record, but I think that most don't, like bother, bundle, wonder, struggle, rumble, thunder, etc., etc.
  17. krispolard

    krispolard New Member

    English - UK
    Sorry, yes, you're quite right about refer and prefer.
    The same would also apply to occur and concur.
    I guess an example I could have used for the same spelling with first syllable stress could be offer - offerring, offerred.
    Thanks for pointing this out :)
  18. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'd write those as offering and offered, Kris:).
  19. krispolard

    krispolard New Member

    English - UK
    Yes, so would many others, even in the UK, but I think this is something that has come from America, like prefered, traveling and focused.

    American English, through the mass media, has a huge effect on British English, so much so that a billion has been devalued by a power of 1000 over the last few decades! In Latin languages it still means a million million, as it used to in English, but now, even on the BBC, thanks to American English, it is only a thousand million (which Latin languages usually call a 'milliard').
  20. Krollaf New Member

    French - France
    I am surprised that no one has mentioned the pronunciation of the 's', which is like 'nonplussed' rather than 'amused', hence my inclination to write 'focussed'!
  21. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    The pronunciation of the 's' in 'amuse' is due to the presence of the final 'e'. And, precisely because of the final 'e', 'amuse' does not form part of the discussion about doubling the final consonant.
  22. hjkhjk

    hjkhjk New Member

    English - USA
    Thanks for this most knowledgeable and comprehensive discussion. I have been struggling for the better part of a day to find an authoritative, repeatable rule for doubling the final consonant of an English word when adding a suffix beginning with a vowel. In particular, the troublesome focus. This thread has given me the ammo I need. Cheers! HJK

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