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Endings that begin with vowels

What about encourage - encouraging?

One of the rules i found in this site under this heading deals with adding suffixes like -ing, -ous to words ending in -e:
Rule: Drop the -e, except endings with soft -ce or -ge
The example given is : Courage - courageous.

What then about encourage - encouraging?
Is this an exception to the rule?


  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited March 2018

    Encouraging is normal. Courageous is unusual.

    The general rule for many English words is that letter-E and letter-I signal a 'soft' C or G. (It doesn't work for all English words but it's more often than not a good sign.)

    • The ending -ing has letter-I to signal 'soft' G in encouraging'. Similarly, it signals 'soft' C in words like icing.

    • Without an an ending, the words encourage and ice use letter-E to signal 'soft' consonants.

    • But we don't need BOTH. So we don't use the spellings encourgeing or iceing.

    • But the ending -ous has neither letter-E nor letter-I to signal a 'soft' consonant.

    Rule: Drop the -e, except endings with soft -ce or -ge

    This is only true if the ending begins with letter-A (e.g. traceable) or letter-O (e.g. courageous). In theory, it's also true if the ending begins with letter-U — but I can't think of an example.

    Dropping letter-E when there's no 'soft' consonant is different.

    • The letter-E at the end of words like make, compete, hike, stroke, rebuke signals that the vowel sounds are 'long' like FACE, FLEECE, PRICE, GOAT, GOOSE — not 'short' like TRAP, DRESS, KIT, LOT, STRUT.

    • But there's the same signal if the vowel letter is followed by ONE consonant. So we can tell that facing, competing, hiking, stroking, rebuking are pronounced with 'long vowels'.

    • So we don't need BOTH signals. We don't write makeing, competeing, hikeing, strokeing, rebukeing.

  • That's the source of the confusion, Amos. The first three guidelines are

    • When you're adding one of these endings to a word that ends with a consonant, the spelling is often straightforward

    • If you add one of the endings to a word that ends in an e that isn't pronounced, drop this final e

    • The exceptions to this rule are words that end with a ‘soft’ ce or ge sound

    The first two are good advice, but the third is quite simple wrong as it stands. Unlike the first two, it doesn't apply to the whole of the listed sugffixes, namely

    -able, -ion, -er, -or, -ance, -ence, -ous, -ish, and -al

    It should be rewritten to show that it only applies to five of the suffixes, namely

    -able, -or, -ance, -ous, and -al.

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