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Ageing vs. Aging

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Ageing vs. Aging

Conversion is one of the most important methods of word formation in English. The English vocabulary has obtained plenty of new nouns and adjectives using conversion from verbs, for instance, and this is also what happened with "to age". The general rule that applies to obtain new words from verbs using conversion is to simply use the present participle or gerund of that verb.

How does present participle form? Normally, you just take the verb and add an "-ing" suffix. But what happens if the verb ends in "-e"? Usually, you are supposed to remove this vowel and only then add "-ing".

For "age", this means you will obtain the word "aging". And this is why the use of "ageing" became confusing and frequently considered a misspelling in English. So which one is the correct form, after all, given the fact that they are both used often in several publications?

Ageing vs. Aging

According to notorious dictionaries and official sources, "ageing" does make an exception from the rule and is accepted as another spelling for "aging", just as correct. They can be used both as nouns and as adjectives. As nouns, they refer to the process of getting older, while as adjectives they describe people, animals or other elements that become old.

So why the spelling difference, if they mean the same? The explanation is simple: "ageing" is the spelling preferred and commonly used in UK, whereas "aging" is the shorter version, specific to US.

 When do we use "ageing"?

 You can use "ageing" both as an adjective and as a noun, whenever you refer to something that is becoming older. The rule you should remember, actually, has nothing to do with the signification of the word, but with the type of English you are using. "Ageing" is definitely preferred in British English and should be spelled like this especially if you are writing a formal message.

Example 1: We are talking about an ageing population who needs young people in order to keep up with the last technological progresses. - "ageing" is the adjective describing a population becoming older.

Example 2: The ageing process occurs too quickly in people's lives nowadays due to unhealthy lifestyles and diets.  - as a noun, "ageing" refers to the process of getting older that people are facing.

When do we use "aging"?

"Aging" is defined as the US spelling for "ageing" and, therefore, can be used with all meanings and in all contexts where you can use "ageing" as well. Yet, American English is well-known for its tendency in shortening words and this is a good trick to help you remember to use "aging" instead of "ageing" if you are communicating with someone from the US.

Example 1: Aging skin is a common problem both women and men face around the world as they are getting older. - "aging" is an adjective referring to the property of an element of getting old.

Example 2: The aging process shouldn't concern you as long as you have a healthy lifestyle. - as a noun, just as "ageing", "aging" refers to the process of becoming old.

Conclusion

"Ageing" and "aging" are both accepted spellings for the gerund or past participle of the verb "to age", and can be used both as adjectives and nouns in the same contexts and with the same meanings. Remember only that the first is preferred in the UK, while the second is more frequently used in the US.

Ageing vs. Aging

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