sailing - why not double "l"?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by angelene001, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. angelene001

    angelene001 Senior Member

    Polish
    I'd like to ask about double "l" in British English.

    I thought that we apply the rule of double "l" to all verbs. Then I've come across "sailing".
    Why don't we double "l" in "sail" when we add "-ing"?
     
  2. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    You do not double the l if the vowel before it is long.
    File => filing [but fill => filling]
    Bowl => bowling
    Mail => mailing

    A vowel before a verb with ll (e.g. fill) is normally short, although there are exceptions (e.g. verbs like call).
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  3. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    And "ai" is usually a long vowel sound. So the spelling itself may be helpful as far as "ai"/a word with " ai" is concerned.
     
  4. Franco-filly Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - Southern England
    You only double the l in verbs with a single vowel before the l
    e.g. travel / travelling, revel / revelling
     
  5. angelene001

    angelene001 Senior Member

    Polish
    I thought about that but:
    fuel - fuelling
     
  6. angelene001

    angelene001 Senior Member

    Polish
    Thank you :) It explains a lot.
    I've never come across such a rule. And I've read a lot of grammar books.
     
  7. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Angelene, don't bother trying to find a hard-and-fast rule on this. Even the British and Americans don't agree. Live with it, there are always exceptions. :)
     
  8. angelene001

    angelene001 Senior Member

    Polish
    I know.
    I lived peacefully with "sailing" for many years. But the day has come when I need to ask "why":)
     
  9. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    Fuel (two syllables) is regular, since the e is short.

    What is interesting is that US dictionaries list fuelling and fueling as well as traveling and travelling.
    Does this reflect what most people in America write?
     
  10. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Posted late
     
  11. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I read somewhere that the BE rule is that if it's a two-syllable word with the first syllable stressed, the final consonant is doubled -- hence fuelling, pencilling, traveller, jeweller, &c.
     
  12. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I've never seen fuelling in AmE (I would in fact consider it a misspelling), but both traveling and travelling are extremely common.
     
  13. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    The AHD gives fuelling and fueling.
     
  14. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I believe you, but all I can say is that in my experience, fueling is greatly preferred.
     
  15. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The rules for <l> are different in AmE and BrE.

    In general, in BrE, you double the <l> when the vowel before is short whether it's stressed or not. In AmE, it's only doubled when it's stressed.

    This gives us travelled, grovelled, revelled, counsellor, panellist and fuelling in BrE. (Fuel is analysed as having two syllables, the first long and the second short. This also true of biassed in BrE.) All of these usually receive single <l>s in AmE. One exception in BrE: paralleled, presumably for aesthetic reasons - the <l> has been doubled just before.

    The stress rule makes the following the same for AmE and BrE: rebelling, enrolling, annulling.

    With a long vowel, the spelling is the same for AmE and BrE: wailing, keeled, cooled. And of course no doubling when the <l> goes with another consonant letter: curling, kohled.
     

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