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Why are the present and the past participles of submit spelled with two t's?

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3 Answers 3

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As a rule of thumb:

If the base form is spelt with a single final consonant and the final syllable is stressed, then the final consonant doubles when endings (-ing, -ed, -er, -ist etc) are added

Final -l usually always doubles in UK spelling, but generally doesn't in US spelling. There's some variation with "s" (so "busing" or "bussing" are generally both acceptable).

A complication concerns cases where the vowel in the final syllable isn't stressed, but it still carries it's "full" quality (so common candidates are "a" or "i" in a final syllable). So for example, "kidnap" would become "kidnapped". There can be variation in such cases.

Obviously, we're only talking about consonant letters that actually represent consonant sounds (so you wouldn't write "bow" -> "bowwing", for example).

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  • I was just confused over "busing" vs "bussing" last week, and came here to ask if both were acceptable.
    – Cubbi
    Apr 14, 2011 at 14:42
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    "Busing" and "buses" drive me nuts. They are so clearly "byoozing" and "byoozez" when I read them, probably due to "fusing" and "fuses." Alas. May 27, 2011 at 4:02
  • @MatthewFrederick it's because "bus" is etymologically a three syllable word (omnibus), and the double consonant rule doesn't apply to trisyllables. Of course, no one calls it an omnibus anymore, so feel free to double that S!
    – No Name
    Aug 3, 2022 at 12:25
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Here is a good explanation on Doubling Final Consonants. I am sure others will post the rules from some recognised entity

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv328.shtml

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The general rule is when a verb ends with a consonant, it is doubled when it is preceded by a single vowel. For example, stop becomes stopped/stopping because the final p is preceded by only one vowel. By contrast, peel or reap become peeled/peeling and reaped/reaping because the final consonant is preceded by two vowels. I find that this rule is the easiest to remember.

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    That "general rule" won't be much help when it comes to words like edited, debited, credited, etc.! Dec 7, 2012 at 21:59
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    @FumbleFingers Or axxed. :)
    – tchrist
    Feb 8, 2013 at 23:44

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