Writing for Business

Jul 25 2012   7:56PM GMT

Do you double the letter “L” before “ed” or “ing”? It depends.

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The phishing email warned that unless I updated my contact information, my eBay account would be ______________.
a. canceled
b. cancelled

Answer: It depends.

US style is canceled; British is cancelled. That’s the general rule for adding “ed” or “ing” to words that end in a single vowel followed by the letter “l.”

Here’s a list:
labelled, labelling (British); labeled, labeling (US)
travelled, travelling (British); traveled, traveling (US)
shovelled, shovelling (British); shoveled, shoveling (US)
cancelled, cancelling (British); canceled, canceling (US)
equalled, equalling (British); equaled, equaling (US)
modelled, modelling (British); modeled, modeling (US)

All bets are off, however, when the last letter is anything other than “L.” Some are always doubled, some never — and you pretty much just have to learn them case by case.

Literacy & Learning provides more information on when to double consonants before “ed” and “ing.”

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