Traveling or travelling spelling

Travels around the world

When adding -ing and -ed to verbs, we sometimes double the consonant beforehand. People are often confused with ‘travelled/traveled’, ‘benefitted/benefited’, ‘focussed/focused’ and ‘targetted/targeted’. This tip answers some of those queries.

The official requirements are that we ‘double a single consonant letter at the end of any base where the preceding vowel is spelled with a single letter and stressed’.

What does this mean in practice?


word present participle past participle
bar barring barred
beg begging begged
occur occurring occurred
permit permitting permitted
patrol patrolling patrolled

It is true to say that there is usually no doubling when the preceding vowel is unstressed (‘enter’ becomes ‘entering/entered’; ‘visit’ becomes ‘visiting/visited’) or when the preceding vowel is written with two letters (‘tread’ becomes ‘treading/treaded’).


However, with some final consonants, even in cases when the preceding vowel is unstressed (so you would think that there would be no doubling), doubling does occur in standard received British English (but is not favoured in American English), so ‘travel’ becomes ‘travelling/travelled’. Others in this grammatical group (verbs ending in an unstressed vowel, followed by the letter ‘l’) are ‘cancel’, ‘counsel’, ‘dial’, ‘model’, ‘parallel’ and ‘signal’.

Some words change their spelling to cope (they add a letter ‘k’).

panic panicking panicked
traffic trafficking trafficked
frolic frolicking frolicked
bivouac bivouacking bivouacked

What about ‘focus’?

This word can take either double or single s, with the single option being highly preferred.

focus focusing/focussing focused/focussed

Here’s an odd one to end:

American British English
paralleling parallelling
paralleled parallelled


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