Language Tips

Spelling tip of the week – occurrence

© Macmillan
Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of spelling tips we will be looking at some of the most commonly misspelled words in English and suggesting ways to improve your spelling.

People searching for the noun occurrence in Macmillan Dictionary often mistakenly miss out the second ‘r’ and type *occurence, or sometimes *occurance. So occurrence presents two spelling problems: the double consonant and the ending.

We have seen in previous posts how words with more than one double consonant present spelling problems for many people. Occur, like similar verbs such as recur and concur, doubles the final ‘r’ when it inflects, as well as when it forms a noun or an adjective: so occurred, recurrence, recurrent, concurring etc and, of course, occurrence.

As for whether the ending should be -ence or -ance: occurrence comes from the Latin verb ‘occurrere’, and takes its -ent or -ence endings from it. The same is true of concur and recur. Most of us are not Latin scholars, though, and can’t be expected to know that. It may be helpful to remember that occur and similar words are distantly related to the adjective current which comes from the Latin verb ‘currere’ and, like that adjective, form their endings with ‘e’.

You can find some information on why English spelling is so difficult, as well as helpful tips on mastering it here. You can search for other posts in this series using the tag ‘spelling tips’.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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