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SO here is the rule I find about doubling consonant

if a word ends with a short vowel sound plus a consonant, and the stress is on the last syllable, then the final consonant is doubled if you add an ending that starts with a vowel.

I find this rule to be much more powerful than the one I learned at school, aka:V+C, But the rule doesn't seem to apply to cooking, which is not doubled. Is this a contradiction of the rule I quoted above? (I am not so sure about the short vowel but, but simple Google tells me that ʊ in cooking is indeed a short vowel. )

Also, if cooking is indeed an exception to this rule, are there any other similar exceptions that I should be aware of?

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    Don't look now, but the last syllable of cooking is not stressed. – Robusto Apr 28 '20 at 0:46
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    Cooking, looking, hooking. Cock, lock, hock. Learn one, you learn ‘em all. – Xanne Apr 28 '20 at 0:48
  • "Cook" doesn't end with a short vowel sound plus consonant. Short "o" occurs in" hop,” “top,” “mop,” “tot,” “pot,” and “lot.” Most "oo" words fall into a different category -- neither "long" nor "short". – Hot Licks Apr 28 '20 at 1:06
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    Once more: English spelling does not follow regular rules and does not indicate pronunciation. The rule you found is wrong. It works for some words but not for others. – John Lawler Apr 28 '20 at 1:24
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Doubling final consonants:

Consonants (often) get doubled in CVC combinations, where the vowels are represented with a single grapheme, not digraphs.

The last C in CVC is the final consoant.

Examples:

  • Rob -> r-C o-V b-C -> robbed, robbing.
  • mop -> m-C o-V p-C -> mopped, mopping.
  • Pin -> p-C i-V n-C -> pinned, pinning

Consonant in CVVC or CVCC combinations (digraphs) does not get doubled.

'Cook' uses a digraph to represent the /ʊ/ sound and the consonant after digraph does not get doubled so the 'k' in cooking does not get doubled.

Examples:

  • Cook -> cooked, cooking — the 'k' does not get doubled.
  • Team -> teamed, teaming — the 'm' does not get doubled because it uses a digraph 'ea' to represent the phoneme /iː/
  • Deem -> deemed, deeming — the 'm' does not get doubled because it uses a digraph 'ee' to represent the phoneme /iː/.

Consonant after a diphthong does not get doubled. (Almost all the words that have 'diphthong + consonant' often have magic/silent e after the consonant. In fact, the diphthong is a result of adding 'magic e').

Examples:

  • Hop -> hopped — the P gets doubled because it's preceded by a vowel /ɒ/. On the other hand, hope -> hoped — the P does not get doubled because it is preceded by a diphthong /əʊ/ (the magic e at the end of 'hope' also indicates that).
  • Pipe -> piped — the P does not get doubled because it's preceded by a diphthong /aɪ/ (the magic e at the end of 'pipe' also indicates that). On the other hand, pip -> pipped — the P gets doubled because it's preceded by a vowel /ɪ/.
  • Rat -> ratted — the T gets doubled because it's preceded by a vowel /æ/. On the other hand, rate -> rated — the T does not get doubled because it's preceded by a diphthong /eɪ/ (the magic e at the end of 'rate' also indicates that).

In most cases (multisyllabic words, I believe), it depends on stress and does not follow CVC method. When the stress is on the last syllable, the consonant gets doubled.

Examples:

  • Elicit /ɪˈlɪsɪt/ -> elicited — the T does not get doubled because the last syllable is unstressed.

  • Interpret /ɪnˈtəːprɪt/ -> interpreted — the T does not get doubled because it's a part of unstressed syllable.

  • Admit /ədˈmɪt/ -> admitted — the T gets doubled because the last syllable is stressed.

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Consonant doubling isn't just based on pronunciation. A single consonant following a vowel digraph does not get doubled by the doubling rule, regardless of how the vowel digraph is pronounced. The main digraphs that you'll see representing a short vowel before a word-final consonant letter are I think "oo" and "ea", especially in combination with certain consonants (like "ook", "ead", "eat"). So other examples are booking, hooking; heading, spreading, threading; sweating.

A vowel digraph is defined for the purpose of this rule as a pair of vowel letters that together represent a single vowel sound. Note that words like quit and duet do not contain vowel digraphs: the "UI" letter sequence in quit represents a consonant-vowel sequence /wi/ and the "UE" letter sequence in duet represents a vowel-vowel sequence.

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  • Another such digraph is "io" in verbs ending in "tion", e.g. mentioned. – Rosie F Apr 28 '20 at 10:35
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    @RosieF: In the case of "mentioned", stress is relevant: the n does not come directly after a stressed syllable, so it would not be doubled even after a single vowel letter (compare reasoned and seasoned). – herisson Apr 28 '20 at 10:40
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Consider, say "hop" and "hope". When we want the past tense of "hope" we use "hoped", combining the trailing "e" in "hope" with the leading "e" in "-ed". Similarly, for the progressive tense of "hope" we drop the trailing "e" and get "hoping". If we did nothing with "hop" we'd get the same two words, so the style developed ages ago (and later turned into a "rule") to double the trailing consonant.

But there are relatively few words that consist of "oo", a consonant, and then "e" (eg, booze, choose, loose), while there roughly 30 times as many "oo" words without the ending "e", and there are very few cases (I'm not aware of any) where a trailing "e" can convert a word in one class to the other. So no "rule" is needed for the "oo" words.

As to the "long" vs "short" rule, note that, as a "rule", words ending with vowel+consonant tend to have a "short" vowel sound, while those ending with vowel+consonant+e tend to have a "long" vowel sound. (There are exceptions, but very few.) So making the rule for doubling the final consonant about short vs long vowel sounds (sort of) "makes sense".

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