This question already has an answer here:

I've seen the words

  • plan -> planned, planning
  • begin -> beginning

Why is "happen" different and why is "happenning" an incorrect spelling?

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt May 18 '15 at 11:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 3
    What happenned with happened? – Blessed Geek May 18 '15 at 9:04
  • Listened, christened, chiseled, fastened, brightened, enlightened, piloted, deepened, ripened, sharpened, smartened, glistened, shortened, opened... Happened is no different. That's the rule, not an exception. And it is, for a change, a rather logical, simple, and obvious rule. We have prior questions on it, and it's even up on Wikipedia. – RegDwigнt May 18 '15 at 11:34

The difference between planned, penned, beginning which have double n's, and happening with a single n is the stressed syllable.

When the syllable that ends in n is stressed, we double the n if another syllable starting with a vowel sound follows it. If we didn't double it, we might feel like elongating the vowel sound of the syllable ending with n.

When the syllable is not stressed, the vowel sound is usually reduced to a schwa, and we don't seem to have the tendency to try and elongate that sound.

Other examples of an unstressed syllable ending with an n would be ripen -> ripening or open -> opening.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.