Spelling Rules -ING

English Grammar Notes

The following is a guide to the correct spelling of –ing forms of verbs and gerunds.

The general rule when changing a verb into its -ING form is just to add -ING to the end of the verb.

Infinitive ING form
to feel feeling
to go going
to work working
to sleep sleeping
  • She wasn't feeling very well.
  • He is working on a new project.
  • The children are sleeping so be quiet.

Spelling exceptions

The following exceptions exist when spelling words ending in ING:

1). If the verb ends in an E we remove the E and add ING.

Infinitive ING form
to live living
to have having
to make making
to take taking
  • People are living longer now than they were 100 years ago.
  • We are making a chocolate cake.
  • He was taking his time to get ready.

2). If the verb ends in a consonant + vowel + consonant, we double the final consonant and add ING.

Infinitive ING form
to stop stopping
to sit sitting
to plan planning
to get getting
to swim swimming
  • The policeman is stopping the traffic.
  • We are planning a surprise party for our teacher.
  • I think I am getting a cold.

3). If a two-syllable verb ends in a consonant + vowel + consonant, we do not double the final consonant when the stress is on the first syllable.

Infinitive ING form
to happen happening
to enter entering
to offer offering
to suffer suffering
  • What is happening?
  • They are offering a discount.
  • Many people are suffering from a lack of food and water.

4). But, we do not double the final consonant when the verb ends in W, X or Y or when the final syllable is not emphasized.

Infinitive ING form
to fix fixing
to enjoy enjoying
to snow snowing
  • He fixing his bike.
  • We are enjoying this great weather.
  • It's snowing outside.

5). If the verb ends in IE we change it to YING.

Infinitive ING form
to lie lying
to die dying
to tie tying
  • I know you are lying to me!
  • You should water your plant more because I think it is dying.
  • The little boy is tying his shoelaces.

6). If the verb ends in consonant + vowel + L, we normally double the final L and add ING.

Note: In the United States (US) they do not double the L when the accent is on the first syllable.

Infinitive ING form
(UK)
ING form
(US)
to travel travelling traveling
to marvel marvelling marveling
  • I have been travelling around South America for 6 months.
  • He was marvelling at her beauty.

7). If the verb ends in a stressed vowel + R, we double the final R and add ING.

Infinitive ING form
refer referring
defer deferring
  • Are you referring to this one or that one?
  • They are thinking of deferring payment of their mortgage.

8). If the verb ends in an unstressed vowel + R, we do not double the final R and add ING.

Infinitive ING form
to offer offering
to suffer suffering
to whisper whispering
  • I am offering you a special deal.
  • He is now suffering the consequences of his actions.
  • I wonder what he is whispering in her ear.



Next activity

Check out our notes about adjectives ending in -ING and -ED.

These ING rules are similar when spelling words ending in -ED.

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Last Updated: 25 September 2014
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