In English, as with many other languages, small changes in spelling can change the meaning of word, and even how it can be used in a sentence. It can be difficult for even experienced writers to remember the proper uses for each spelling.
In the case of gases and gasses, adding one letter changes the word from a noun to a verb. Many writers mistakenly substitute the verb for the noun, or vice versa.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to remember whether gasses or gases is appropriate for any given sentence. Read on to find out what it is.
What is the Difference Between Gases and Gasses?
In this article, I will compare gases vs. gasses. I will also use each of these words in an example sentence to illustrate its proper use. Plus, I will show you a useful memory trick to help decide whether gases or gasses is appropriate for your writing.
When to Use Gases
What does gases mean? Gases is the plural form of the noun gas, which is one of the four states of matter, or, informally in American English, short for gasoline.
In the scientific sense, a gas (as opposed to a solid, liquid, or plasma) expands to fill any container, regardless of volume.
- Argon, helium, and neon are noble gases.
- Some gases, like shale gas and tight gas, are extracted from the earth’s crust through hydraulic fracturing.
- Then they could start looking for things such as water, oxygen, and gases that indicate biological process — in other words, signs of life. –The Washington Post
According to Garner’s Modern English Usage, gases, as the plural form of gas, occurs at a ratio of 42:1 when compared with gasses as the plural form. Gases is clearly the preferred plural form.
When to Use Gasses
What does gasses mean? Gasses is a verb. It is the third-person singular form of the verb gas, in the present tense.
This verb has several senses, including to poison someone with a vaporous substance, to dissipate as a gas, and in American English, to fuel a vehicle.
- Katie gasses up her car every few days after work.
- An exterminator gasses pests in a controlled area.
- As the varnish gasses out over several days, use the time to work on other projects.
Trick to Remember the Difference
Here is a helpful trick to remember gasses vs. gases.
- If you’re using the word as a plural noun, you will want to choose gases.
- Meanwhile, the third-person singular present tense verb is gasses.
Gasses is present tense, and is spelled with a double S. There are also two S’s in the phrase “present tense.” It should be easy to remember that gasses is a verb, not a noun.
Is it gases or gasses? Some words can change their meanings with only a small change in spelling. Gases and gasses are two examples.
- Gases is the plural of gas, which is a noun meaning a substance that expands to fill any container.
- Gasses is a verb in the third-person present tense which carries a variety of meanings.
Gases is always a noun, and gasses is always a verb. You can remember that gasses is a present tense verb since it contains a double S, and there are two S’s in the phrase “present tense.”
If you still have trouble remembering when to use each of these words, you can refer back to this article for a refresher.