Spelling matters: -ing and -ed

Mar 27, 2012

We were recently asked about the preferred spelling for focus  is it focusing or focussing?

Both are listed in the dictionary, and in very general terms the first form given in the dictionary is the one thought of as traditionally correct. But, the second one has increasing frequency. 

The spelling rule is that if the first syllable of two is the one that is stressed, don't double the final consonant, but this seems to be overridden by the general  notion of doubling the final consonant before adding -ed and -ing. People often can't see the point. If begin becomes beginning why shouldn't focus become focussing? The subtlety of the stress being on the second syllable in the case of begin and on the first syllable in the case of focus escapes them. All the dictionaries  Oxford English Dictionary included  now allow for the current variation.

Find more spelling tips and tricks in our Spelling Matters series.

This article was originally posted on our Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

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