Dear Anna,
About Comparatives:
I have seen in a textbook the idea that students should remember that single syllable words ending in consonant-vowel-consonant need a doubled final letter. Example: fatter.

However, this doesn't apply to all words. Example: newer, fewer, slower.

You suggest the following: 1. after short vowels we double the last letter: thin; thinner than; the thinnest

How do you teach students to tell the difference between short and long vowels without necessarily checking the dictionary every time they speak?

Mark
Japan

Dear Mark  

We have only five short vowels in English a e i o and u. These occur mostly between two consonants: pat, pet, pit, pot, cut.
This means that new and slow are not 'short vowels'.

But remember that there are virtually no rules of English spelling that do not have exceptions:
bus, gas and focus do not double the s in plurals and 3rd person singular: buses, gases, focuses.
That is illogical, and the result is that when they write about busing scholars to different areas, it's a very strange looking word.

 

This little rhyme shows how illogical the spelling is:

Those who write buses and gases with two esses are asses. 


With longer words, doubling the consonant depends on where the accent is. If it is on the last syllable, the consonant is doubled:

infer > inferred
occur > occurred

submit > submitted
allot > allotted

but if it isn't on the last syllable, the consonant isn't doubled:

enter > entered,
banter > bantered
benefit > benefited

exceptions:  
worship > worshipped
kidnap > kidnapped (US –p-)

So, for short words, your students just have to know the 5 short vowels, and those are the ones that double the consonant.  

Kind regards
Anna Grammar


Contact Anna Grammar at grammar@english-to-go.com