phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by R. Berg on February 19, 2002

In Reply to: Spelling--verb endings posted by R. Berg on February 19, 2002

: : I've just posted something here using the past participle of the verb "to benefit" and it's reminded me of an unresolved argument I had many moons ago.

: : I'm admittedly both British and a linguist and so therefore undoubtedly obsessive beyond redemption, but every single bone in my body instinctually screams for me to spell the word "benefitted" with two t's. Similarly, were I ever to use the perfect tense of the verb "to target", I'd type "I have targetted" without so much as a second thought simply because without the double "t", the preceding vowel would be pronounced as strong - "kitten" versus "kite", if you like. I am sure there are other multisyllabic verbs ending in a vowel + t which I'd treat similarly.

: : What's the general view on this? Two t's or one? Or is it another transatlantic "vive la différence" thing?

: It is a transatlantic thing, and not confined to -t. My most recent U.S. dictionary (American Heritage) gives both "kidnaped" and "kidnapped, "shoveled" and "shovelled." The American tendency is not to double the consonant if the accent is on another syllable--at least in book publishing; the New Yorker magazine still doubles ("travelled"). But we double for "outfitted," perhaps under the influence of "fitted," from the monosyllabic "fit."

I have difficulty imagining just how the spelling "targeted" would lead you to pronounce the word. The analogy with "kitten" and "kite" suggests a long "e." But "tar-GEET-ed"? Really?

© 1997 – 2024 All rights reserved.