What is a double consonant? Examples of double consonant words.

A double consonant is a letter occurring twice in succession in a word. For example, the ‘nn’ in a tunnel is a double consonant. Double consonants are found in words that have a suffix added to them, for example, ‘beginning.’ To spot another example, is ‘happy’ a double consonant? Yes, the consonant ‘p’ here is doubled to protect the vowel in front of it. To learn more about this, continue reading to learn more spelling rules of double consonants.

What is the rule for double consonants?

There are a few spelling rules for using double consonants in your writing. Including:

The rabbit rule: A fun way to learn when to use double consonants is to understand the rabbit rule! The ‘Rabbit Rule’ is a commonly taught spelling rule that addresses the double consonant in words like ‘rabbit’ and ‘kitten.’The ‘Rabbit rule’ says that if a word has two syllables, the vowel is short, and only one consonant sound is placed between the vowels, then the consonant in the middle is doubled. So, for example, rabbit, happy, and kitten are all words with two syllables and a short vowel, meaning that the consonants ‘bb’, ‘pp,’ and ‘tt’ are doubled.

To summarise, if a word has:

  • Two syllables
  • The first vowel is short
  • Only one consonant sound between the vowels

Then double that consonant! Like any spelling rule in English literacy, this spelling technique should be taught to guide students alongside other laws to double consonants.

Double consonants to protect a vowel: When you are adding a vowel suffix (a suffix that starts with a vowel, like ‘ing,’ ‘ed,’ and ‘able’), you should double the consonant before the suffix. Examples of double consonants used to protect the vowels include ‘stopped,’ ‘digging,’ and ‘falling.’

As you can see in these examples, the double consonant protects the vowel. One way to think of this is to think of the vowel suffix as an invader. Placing the double consonant between the short vowel and the suffix will protect its pronunciation and stop it from becoming a long vowel. In this case, there is a solid protective wall of the double consonant to separate the vowel and the suffix.

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