The Complete List of
English Spelling Rules

Lesson 12: Double Letter Endings
-ll, -ff, -ss, -zz

In this series of lessons, you will learn useful spelling rules in English.

This lesson talks about some common double letter endings for words in English: -ll, -ff, -ss, and -zz. 

a boy writing on a typewriter

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These doubled letters usually appear at the end of one- and two-syllable words after a single vowel. We say "usually" because there are some exceptions to this guideline.

As we look at examples for each double letter, we will also look at some common exceptions so that you can remember these words.

1. Double L

a woman talking on the phone

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Paula will call her friend and tell her what happened.

There are many examples of one- and two-syllable words in English that end in -ll after a single vowel. The most common have only one syllable.

Here are some of the most common examples:
  • all
  • tell
  • still
  • full
  • sell
  • bill
  • hall
  • pull
  • cell
  • ball
  • skill
  • tall
  • roll
  • fill
  • hill
  • smell
  • spell
  • shell
  • ball
  • kill
  • recall
  • football

There are very few exceptions to this rule. The only words you will commonly see that end with a single vowel and a single l are: pal, which means friend, and nil, which means nothing.

2. Double F

a scared boy on a diving board

Pete is scared to jump off the diving board into the water.

The -ff ending is not as common, but you will often see if after a single vowel in one- or two-syllable words. Here are the most common examples:
  • handcuff
  • off
  • staff
  • stuff
  • cliff
  • tariff
  • sheriff
  • puff
  • sniff
  • fluff

There are a few important exceptions that you will often see. They end in a single f and are extremely common: if and of.

3. Double S

a woman in business clothes

Linda has a lot of success in business.

You will find many one- and two-syllable words that end in -ss.

Here are some of the most common examples:
  • process
  • class
  • less
  • miss
  • press
  • pass
  • success
  • loss
  • across
  • access
  • glass
  • discuss
  • address
  • express
  • dress
  • progress
  • grass
  • kiss
Some important exceptions to this rule which end in a single s are: us, bus, and gas.

4. Double Z

a man playing the guitar

Leonard plays jazz and blues music.

The least common of these double letter endings is -zz. The most common examples of one-syllable words that end in -zz are:
  • buzz
  • fizz
  • fuzz

One very common exception that ends in a single z is: quiz.


So, let's review what we have learned about these double letter endings for English words:

  1. These guidelines apply for one- and two-syllable words in English that end with single vowel and then the double letter.

  2. These double letters are: -ll, -ff, -ss, and -zz.

  3. The -ll and -ss endings are very common. The -ff ending is a bit less common, and -zz is not a very common word ending.

  4. These guidelines have some common exceptions.

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