By Jacqueline Schaalje
Bigger is more than big.
So big is the root of the word bigger (the basic word).
As you can see there is no e at the end of the word big. If you put an e after big -– like this: bige — the pronunciation of the i in big will (mostly) sound like the I in the alphabet [ai].
So if you write bige, you’d pronounce this as [baig]. This is a rule in English. That’s why you can’t write biger with one g, because you’d say [baiger].
However, if you write two “g”s, you’ll avoid this problem. The sound of the i stays the same.
In the same way, you also write biggest with two “g”s.
Double GG means you say “short” i (like in fish).
Another example: wet
If you write wete, you’d pronounce this as [weat] with the [ea] as in the word sea.
You don’t want this sound in the words wetter and wettest (and in wetted and wetting). So you spell them with double t.
Again, the double consonant (tt) makes the vowel “short”. With tt the e sounds like in elephant.
Last example: fat
If you write fate, first of all this is another word than fat (it means destiny), but you also pronounce it differently. Fate would sound [fayt] with the [ay] like in the words state or laid. (The A sounds like A in the alphabet.)
So if you want the words fatter and fattest to sound with an [a] like in the word cat, what you do is write them with double t (tt).
Here’s an “easy” rule for you to remember:
If the word is written with one vowel (a, o, i, e, u) and there is one consonant after it (consonants are all the letters that are not vowels), and you want the sounds to be short as in the words “cat,” “dog,” “pig,” “let” and “bus,” double the consonant if you write an e (or i) after it.
Have a look at these examples:
From thin, we get thinner, thinnest, thinned and thinning.
From stop, we get stopper (plug), stopped and stopping.
From swim, we get swimmer and swimming.
From plug, we get plugger, plugged and plugging.
From mad, we get madder, maddest and maddening (making you mad).
From red, we get redder, reddest and reddening.
As you’ve noticed, the words that follow this rule are usually one syllable long (a syllable is a part of a word that you can say without a break. For example the word “easy” has two syllables: ea – sy.). That is, the root of the word is only one syllable. Longer words don’t usually follow the rule, and you don’t need to write a double consonant.
Words with Two Consonants after the Vowel
So how about words that have two consonants after the vowel, you may ask. Do we have to double those too? The answer is no.
Strong, you don’t need double g in stronger and strongest.
In strict, you don’t need a double t in stricter and strictest.
In thick, you don’t need a double k in thicker or thickest.
Before I forget. The letter x doesn’t need to be doubled.
Write the correct adjective (a comparative such as bigger) or a superlative (such as biggest).
You can do this exercise online here.
1 The sun in Nigeria is a lot ___________ (hot) than in Sweden.
2 Jackie must be the ___________ (dim) student in the class. She has no idea what we’re talking about.
3 Is your scooter really __________ (new) than mine? It looks much ________ (old).
4 I think Cupcake Lounge is _________ (hip) than Café Bookworm, because all my friends go there.
5 If you bothered to go to yoga class two times a week, you’d soon get _________ (fit).
6 Now that she’s lost the bicycle race, she looks even ________ (glum) than normally.
7 It’s going to be minus 15 degrees Celsius. Looks like the ________ (grim) winter ever!
8 My roommate’s bedroom always looks __________ (neat) and ___________ (clean) than mine. I don’t know how he does it.
9 That’s the _______ (red) lipstick ever!
10 Of all the rats in my kitchen, Jules is the ___________ (quick).
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