Past tense Spelling

LanDi Liu strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 26 14:55:40 UTC 2008

Your examples aren't consistent.  Kidnaped (or kidnapped) is accented on the
first syllable, but admitted is accented on the second syllable.  I believe
that the "rule" is thus: consonants are doubled before the suffixes -ed,
-es, -er, -est, -ing, and -y (I think that's all of them) if the following
criteria are met:

1. The last (or only) syllable must end with one consonant letter and one
vowel letter.  The letter Y can count as a vowel letter.
2. The last (or only syllable must be accented.

W, X, and Y are never doubled.

There are acceptable variations to this (buses, travelled), but it is also
acceptable to always follow this "rule" (busses, traveled).


On Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 8:56 PM, David Metevia <djmetevia at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Metevia <djmetevia at CHARTERMI.NET>
> Subject:      Past tense Spelling
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In the August, 2008 issue of Smithsonian magazine there is an article
> about a kidnapping and murder that occurred in Chicago in 1924.  The
> story has a picture of the Chicago Daily News headline: KILL BOY
> KIDNAPED FOR RANSOM.  What caught my eye was the spelling of past tense
> of _kidnap_.  How do the standard past tense formations change over
> time?  In my mind I think of the past tense of words like kidnap that
> end with a short vowel that the final consonant would be doubled -
> kidnapped, rapped, admitted, and so on.  Does anyone know of resources
> on this topic that track spelling "rule" changes?
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

The American Dialect Society -

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