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Dropping the Final E Study Guide

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Updated on Mar 31, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Dropping the Final E Practice Exercises

This lesson focuses on the specific instances when you should drop the final e and when you should keep it when adding a suffix.

AS YOU PROBABLY have gathered by now, there are some words that require you to drop the final e and some that require you to keep it when adding a suffix. The basic rule of thumb is that you drop the final e when adding an ending that begins with a vowel, and you keep the final e when adding an ending that begins with a consonant.

Here are the rules to remember:

1. If the suffix begins with a vowel, drop the e when adding the suffix.
type + -ist = typist
drive + -able = drivable
fortune + -ate = fortunate
2. If the suffix begins with a consonant, keep the final e.
wise + -ly = wisely
peace + -ful = peaceful
coarse + -ness = coarseness

Let's start with a simple example, the word parade. When you add -ed or -ing to parade, you must first drop the final e to make paraded and parading. The combination of the word and those two endings is fairly straightforward and unlikely to cause you many problems. Since both endings begin with a vowel, you drop the final e before adding either of them to the word. To create the plural form, however, you keep the final e, making the word parades, because the plural ending, s, is a consonant.

Another example is the word argue and the endings -ed, -ing, -able , and -s. As in our preceding example, the first two endings are straightforward: you drop the final e to make argued and arguing. The third ending, -able, is a little trickier. Many times, people will keep the final e, even though the ending begins with a vowel, writing argueable when the correct spelling is arguable. Remember to drop the final e when an ending begins with a vowel and to keep the final e when the ending begins with a consonant (s), to make the word argues.

As with most spelling rules, there are exceptions pertaining to the final e. There are two situations when you keep the final e when adding an ending that begins with a vowel. Both of these exceptions make sense when you keep punctuation in mind.

  1. Keep the final e when it follows a soft c or g, in order to maintain the soft sound of those letters. When c or g are followed by a, o, or u, the consonant makes a hard sound. To keep the soft sound, you must keep the final e in words such as courage (+ -ous = courageous), outrage (+ -ous = outrageous), and notice (+-able = noticeable). Other words, such as binge (+ = -ing = bingeing) seem to ignore the rule entirely: g followed by i would normally have a soft sound in any case.
  2. Also keep the final e to show that a preceding vowel should be long. For example, hoe + -ing = hoeing (not hoing). Again, the final e is kept to preserve the correct pronunciation of the word.

A silent e at the end of a word is always dropped when adding a suffix that begins with a consonant. Some common examples are:

    acknowledge + -ment = acknowledgment
    argue + -ment = argument
    awe + -ful = awful
    due + -ly = duly
    judge + -ment = judgment
    nine + -th = ninth
    true + -ly = truly
    whole + -ly = wholly
    wise + -dom = wisdom

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Dropping the Final E Practice Exercises

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