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The general rule is that when we have vowel + consonant + vowel we should double the consonant, in order to properly pronounce the whole word.

The examples include: submitted , shipping, etc.

So why don't we say editted and editting?

Why are edited and editing correct?

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    All I can say is that doing otherwise earned me a ruler-smack on the knuckles from my English teacher. Even after reading all of the answers here, multiple googling attempts, and asking people, this is still valid. "editted" is wrong because it is wrong, and for no other reason at all.
    – PcMan
    Nov 11 '21 at 8:41
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    @PcMan Indeed. English doesn't have rules. It has rulers - and they punish you when you get it wrong, lol.
    – J...
    Nov 11 '21 at 15:33
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    @J... Hahaha. When I started learning German and Czech I realized how English rules are almost nonexistent. The words are just spelled how they are with no way to know without knowing beforehand.
    – texasboy
    Nov 12 '21 at 11:23
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In a word with 2 or more syllables, double the final consonant ONLY if the word ends in 1 vowel + 1 consonant AND the final syllable is stressed. (source)

So submit = /səbˈmɪt/ becomes submitted

But edit = /ˈedɪt/ becomes edited

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    In BE, there are the verbs cancelled, labelled, and many others which contradict this rule. Nov 10 '21 at 7:24
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    Rules in language are often like observing a natural phenomenon. You observe, then you make rules. If something break the rule, you modify the rule. Very seldom it's possible to change what you observe to fit the rule.
    – Lenne
    Nov 10 '21 at 11:38
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    @rexkogitans That famously only applies to the consonant 'l' which doubles in BE regardless of stress (but subject to being preceded by a single vowel, of course). Nov 10 '21 at 14:53
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    James's answer is a good general rule, but keep in mind that there are quite a few exceptions not only in BE but also in US English. For example, words like "focus," "travel," and "shovel" optionally double the final consonant in US English.
    – LouisInLA
    Nov 10 '21 at 16:43
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    Re "words like "focus," "travel," and "shovel" optionally double the final consonant in US English.": Can you back that up with a source? Wiktionary says, for example (my emphasis), "travel (third-person singular simple present travels, present participle travelling or (US) traveling, simple past and past participle travelled or *(US) traveled)" (I am not sure how to interpret that.) Nov 10 '21 at 18:49
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James K gives a full answer for American English.

However, one might ask why "editted" is not seen even in British English, which has several examples that contradict the stress-based rule (as pointed out by rexkogitans). The reason for this is that in British English it depends also on the consonant in question. Compare these quotes from Fowler's Modern English Usage (not actually all that modern as I only have an old edition to hand, but at least it gives the traditional BrE usage; I have edited to omit unnecessary examples).

For -ll- vs -l-:

Final l is treated differently in British, but not American, usage from most final consonants, the rule being to double it, if single, in inflexions & in some derivatives, irrespective of the position of the accent.

For -tt- vs -t-:

Words of more than one syllable follow the rule for monosyllables [doubling only if they immediately follow a single-letter vowel] if their last syllable is accented; but otherwise they do not double it.

For -pp- vs -p-:

Words of more than one syllable follow the rule for monosyllables if their last syllable is accented; they also double the p if they have a clear ă or ŏ as opposed to the obscure sound in jalap & gallop, or if, like horsewhip & sideslip, they are compounded with a monosyllable; but otherwise they do not double it except worship.

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  • The description of t/tt here just follows the normal rule. Nov 10 '21 at 16:54
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. Yes, that is the point: BrE uses the "normal rule" for T, but not for L. So I needed to quote what my source says on both letters to justify that claim. Nov 10 '21 at 17:14
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    @EspeciallyLime, typo? "edited" is seen, "editted" is not
    – Buster
    Nov 11 '21 at 21:49
  • @Buster well spotted, thanks! Nov 12 '21 at 8:29
  • @EspeciallyLime Thank you for your answer. Can you please edit your question to add examples for each part? Nov 12 '21 at 12:04

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