Happen vs. Occur

Difference Between Happen and Occur

Happen and Occur seem to convey the same meaning. However the two are often confused as there is slight difference between the two. ‘Happen’ conveys the sense of ‘taking place’ as in the sentences below.

It happened to him last week.  

In the above sentence ‘happen’ means to take place. Therefore, the meaning of the sentences is ‘it took place last week,. The word ‘occur’ conveys the sense of ‘coming into existence as a process or a an event’. See the above sentence:

It occurred to him that he was on the wrong path.

In the process of nuclear fission chain of reaction occurs.

The word ‘occur’ conveys the sense of ‘come into existance as a process and event. ‘Occur’ in the first setence means ‘to come into existence as an event’ while in the second sentence the word ‘occur’ means ‘to come into existence as a process.’

Thus the difference between ‘happen’ and ‘occur’ is clear.

‘Occur’often is followed by the prepositions ‘at’ and ‘in’the sentence.  Look at the sentences below:

The solar eclipse occurred at 9 am.

Many events have occurred in the city since you went.

In the above sentences the word ‘occur’ is followed by pepositions ‘at’ and ‘in’. The word ‘happen’ is also followed by the prepositions ‘in’ and ‘at’. For example,

An accident has happened in the city.

                It happened at night.

 

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